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! Gerardus' Grist ! Wisdom from Anthony de Mello 

Wisdom from Anthony de 


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Spirituality means wal<ing up. IMost people, even though they don't 
know it, are asleep. They're born asleep, they live asleep, they marry 
in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their 
sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness 
and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know, 
all mystics - Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their 
theology, no matter what their religion - are unanimous on one thing: 
that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. 
Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to 
see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a 

Last year on Spanish television I heard a story about this gentleman 
who knocks on his son's door. "Jaime", he says, "wake up"! Jaime 
answers, "I don't want to get up. Papa". The father shouts, "Get up, 
you have to go to school". J aime says, "I don't want to go to school". 
"Why not"? asks the father. "Three reasons", says Jaime. "First, 
because it's so dull; second, the kids tease me; and third, I hate 
school". And the father says, "Well, I am going to give you three 
reasons why you must go to school. First, because it is your duty; 
second, because you are forty-five years old, and third, because you 
are the headmaster". Wake up, wake up! You've grown up. You're too 
big to be asleep. Wake up! Stop playing with your toys. 

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! Gerardus' Grist ! Wisdom from Anthony de Mello ! 

Most people tell you they want to get out of kindergarten, but don't 
believe them. Don't believe them! All they want you to do is to mend 
their broken toys. "Give me back my wife. Give me back my job. Give 
me back my money. Give me back my reputation, my success". This 
is what they want; they want their toys replaced. That's all. Even the 
best psychologist will tell you that, that people don't really want to be 
cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful. 

Waking up is unpleasant, you know. You are nice and comfortable in 
bed. It's irritating to be woken up. That's the reason the wise guru 
will not attempt to wake people up. I hope I 'm going to be wise here 
and make no attempt whatsoever to wake you up if you are asleep. It 
is really none of my business, even though I say to you at times, 
"Wake up!" My business is to do my thing, to dance my dance. If you 
profit from it, fine; if you don't, too bad! As the Arabs say, "The 
nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes 
and flowers in the gardens". 


Do you think I am going to help anybody? No! Oh, no, no, no, no, no! 
Don't expect me to be of help to anyone. Nor do I expect to damage 
anyone. If you are damaged, you did it; and if you are helped, you 
did it. You really did! You think people help you? They don't. You 
think people support you? They don't. 

There was a woman in a therapy group I was conducting once. She 
was a religious sister. She said to me, "I don't feel supported by my 
superior". So I said, "What do you mean by that"? And she said, 
"Well, my superior, the provincial superior, never shows up at the 
novitiate where I am in charge, never. She never says a word of 
appreciation". I said to her, "All right let's do a little role playing. 
Pretend I know your provincial superior. In fact, pretend I know 
exactly what she thinks about you. 

So I say to you (acting the part of the provincial superior), 'You 
know, Mary, the reason I don't come to that place you're in is 
because it is the one place in the province that is trouble-free, no 
problems. I know you're in charge, so all is well.' How do you feel 

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now"? She said, "I feel great". Then I said to her, "All right, would 
you mind leaving the room for a minute or two? This is part of the 
exercise". So she did. While she was away, I said to the others in the 
therapy group, "I am still the provincial superior, O.K.? 

Mary out there is the worst novice director I have ever had in the 
whole history of the province. I n fact, the reason I don't go to the 
novitiate is because I can't bear to see what she is up to. It's simply 
awful. But if I tell her the truth, it's only going to make those novices 
suffer all the more. We are getting somebody to take her place in a 
year or two; we are training someone. I n the meantime I thought I 
would say those nice things to her to keep her going. What do you 
think of that"? 

They answered, "Well, it was really the only thing you could do under 
the circumstances". Then I brought Mary back into the group and 
asked her if she still felt great. "Oh yes", she said. Poor Mary! She 
thought she was being supported when she wasn't. The point is that 
most of what we feel and think we conjure up for ourselves in our 
heads, including this business of being helped by people. 

Do you think you help people because you are in love with them? 
Well, I 've got news for you. You are never in love with anyone. You're 
only in love with your prejudiced and hopeful idea of that person. 
Take a minute to think about that: You are never in love with anyone, 
you're in love with your prejudiced idea of that person. Isn't that how 
you fall out of love? Your idea changes, doesn't it? "How could you let 
me down when I trusted you so much"? you say to someone. Did you 
really trust them? You never trusted anyone. Come off it! 

That's part of society's brainwashing. You never trust anyone. You 
only trust your judgment about that person. So what are you 
complaining about? The fact is that you don't like to say, "My 
judgment was lousy". That's not very flattering to you, is it? So you 
prefer to say, "How could you have let me down"? So there it is: 
People don't really want to grow up, people don't really want to 
change, people don't really want to be happy. As someone so wisely 
said to me, "Don't try to make them happy, you'll only get in trouble. 
Don't try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it irritates the 

Like the businessman who goes into a bar, sits down, and sees this 
fellow with a banana in his ear - a banana in his ear! And he thinks, 
"I wonder if I should mention that to him. No, it's none of my 

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business". But the thought nags at him. So after having a drinl< or 
two, he says to the fellow, "Excuse me, ah, you've got a banana in 
your ear". The fellow says, "What"? The businessman repeats, 
"You've got a banana in your ear. "Again the fellow says, "What was 
that"? "You've got a banana in your ear!" the businessman shouts. 
"Talk louder", the fellow says, "I've got a banana in my ear!" So it's 
useless. "Give up, give up, give up", I say to myself. Say your thing 
and get out of here. And if they profit, that's fine, and if they don't, 
too bad! 



The first thing I want you to understand, if you really want to wake 
up, is that you don't want to wake up. The first step to waking up is 
to be honest enough to admit to yourself that you don't like it. You 
don't want to be happy. Want a little test? Let's try it. It will take you 
exactly one minute. You could close your eyes while you're doing it or 
you could keep them open. It doesn't really matter. 

Think of someone you love very much, someone you're close to, 
someone who is precious to you, and say to that person in your mind, 
"I'd rather have happiness than have you". See what happens. "I'd 
rather be happy than have you. If I had a choice, no question about 
it, I'd choose happiness". How many of you felt selfish when you said 
this? Many, it seems. See how we've been brainwashed? See how 
we've been brainwashed into thinking, "How could I be so selfish"? 
But look at who's being selfish. Imagine somebody saying to YOU, 
"How could you be so selfish that you'd choose happiness over me"? 
Would you not feel like responding, "Pardon me, but how could YOU 
be so selfish that YOU would demand I choose you above my own 

A woman once told me that when she was a child her Jesuit cousin 
gave a retreat in the Jesuit church in Milwaukee. He opened each 
conference with the words: "The test of love is sacrifice, and the 
gauge of love is unselfishness". That's marvelous! I asked her, 
"Would you want me to love you at the cost of my happiness"? "Yes", 
she answered. Isn't that delightful? Wouldn't that be wonderful? SHE 
would love me at the cost of HER happiness and I would love her at 

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the cost of MY happiness, and so you've got two unhappy people, but 


I was saying that we don't want to be happy. We want other things. 
Or let's put it more accurately: We don't want to be unconditionally 
happy. I'm ready to be happy provided I have this and that and the 
other thing. But this is really to say to our friend or to our God or to 
anyone, "You are my happiness. If I don't get you, I refuse to be 
happy". It's so important to understand that. We cannot imagine 
being happy without those conditions. That's pretty accurate. We 
cannot conceive of being happy without them. We've been taught to 
place our happiness in them. 

So that's the first thing we need to do if we want to come awake, 
which is the same thing as saying: if we want to love, if we want 
freedom, if we want joy and peace and spirituality. I n that sense, 
spirituality is the most practical thing in the whole wide world. I 
challenge anyone to think of anything more practical than spirituality 
as I have defined it — not piety, not devotion, not religion, not 
worship, but spirituality — waking up, waking up! Look at the 
heartache everywhere, look at the loneliness, look at the fear, the 
confusion, the conflict in the hearts of people, inner conflict, outer 

Suppose somebody gave you a way of getting rid of all of that? 
Suppose somebody gave you a way to stop that tremendous drainage 
of energy, of health, of emotion that comes from these conflicts and 
confusion. Would you want that? Suppose somebody showed us a 
way whereby we would truly love one another, and be at peace, be at 
love. Can you think of anything more practical than that? But, 
instead, you have people thinking that big business is more practical, 
that politics is more practical, that science is more practical. What's 
the earthly use of putting a man on the moon when we cannot live on 
the earth? 

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Is psychology more practical than spirituality? Nothing is more 
practical than spirituality. What can the poor psychologist do? He can 
only relieve the pressure. I'm a psychologist myself, and I practice 
psychotherapy, and I have this great conflict within me when I have 
to choose sometimes between psychology and spirituality. I wonder if 
that makes sense to anybody here. It didn't make sense to me for 
many years. 

I'll explain. It didn't make sense to me for many years until I 
suddenly discovered that people have to suffer enough in a 
relationship so that they get disillusioned with all relationships. Isn't 
that a terrible thing to think? They've got to suffer enough in a 
relationship before they wake up and say, "I'm sick of it! There must 
be a better way of living than depending on another human being". 
And what was I doing as a psychotherapist? People were coming to 
me with their relationship problems, with their communication 
problems, etc., and sometimes what I did was a help. 

But sometimes, I'm sorry to say, it wasn't, because it kept people 
asleep. Maybe they should have suffered a little more. Maybe they 
ought to touch rock bottom and say, "I'm sick of it all. " It's only 
when you're sick of your sickness that you'll get out of it. Most people 
go to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to get relief. I repeat: to get 
relief. Not to get out of it. 

There's the story of little Johnny who, they say, was mentally 
retarded. But evidently he wasn't, as you'll learn from this story. 
Johnny goes to modeling class in his school for special children and 
he gets his piece of putty and he's modeling it. He takes a little lump 
of putty and goes to a corner of the room and he's playing with it. 
The teacher comes up to him and says, "Hi, J ohnny". And J ohnny 
says, "Hi". And the teacher says, "What's that you've got in your 
hand"? And J ohnny says, "This is a lump of cow dung". The teacher 
asks, "What are you making out of it"? He says, "I'm making a 

The teacher thought, "Little J ohnny has regressed". So she calls out 
to the principal, who was passing by the door at that moment, and 
says, "Johnny has regressed". 

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So the principal goes up to J oiinny and says, "Hi, son". And J ohnny 
says, "Hi". And the principal says, "What do you have in your hand"? 
And he says, "A lump of cow dung". "What are you making out of it"? 
And he says, "A principal". 

The principal thinks that this is a case for the school psychologist. 
"Send for the psychologist!" 

The psychologist is a clever guy. He goes up and says, "Hi". And 
Johnny says, "Hi". And the psychologist says, "I know what you've 
got in your hand". "What"? "A lump cow dung". Johnny says, "Right". 
"And I know what you're making out of it". "What"? "You're making a 

"Wrong. Not enough cow dung!" 

And they called him mentally retarded! The poor psychologists, 
they're doing a good job. They really are. There are times when 
psychotherapy is a tremendous help, because when you're on the 
verge of going insane, raving mad, you're about to become either a 
psychotic or a mystic. That's what the mystic is, the opposite of the 
lunatic. Do you know one sign that you've woken up? It's when you 
are asking yourself, "Am I crazy, or are all of them crazy"? It really 

Because we are crazy. The whole world is crazy. Certifiable lunatics! 
The only reason we're not locked up in an institution is that there are 
so many of us. So we're crazy. We're living on crazy ideas about love, 
about relationships, about happiness, about joy, about everything. 
We're crazy to the point, I've come to believe, that if everybody 
agrees on something, you can be sure it's wrong! Every new idea, 
every great idea, when it first began was in a minority of one. 

That man called J esus Christ - minority of one. Everybody was saying 
something different from what he was saying. The Buddha - minority 
of one. Everybody was saying something different from what he was 
saying. I think it was Bertrand Russell who said, "Every great idea 
starts out as a blasphemy". That's well and accurately put. You're 
going to hear lots of blasphemies during these days. "He hath 
blasphemed!" Because people are crazy, they're lunatics, and the 
sooner you see this, the better for your mental and spiritual health. 

Don't trust them. Don't trust your best friends. Get disillusioned with 

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your best friends. They're very clever. As you are in your dealings 
with everybody else, though you probably don't know it. Ah, you're 
so wily, and subtle, and clever. You're putting on a great act. 

I'm not being very complimentary here, am I? But I repeat: You want 
to wake up. You're putting on a great act. And you don't even know 
it. You think you're being so loving. Ha! Whom are you loving? Even 
your self-sacrifice gives you a good feeling, doesn't it? "I'm sacrificing 
myself! I'm living up to my ideal". But you're getting something out 
of it, aren't you? You're always getting something out of everything 
you do, until you wake up. 

So there it is: step one. Realize that you don't want to wake up. It's 
pretty difficult to wake up when you have been hypnotized into 
thinking that a scrap of old newspaper is a check for a million dollars. 
How difficult it is to tear yourself away from that scrap of old 



Anytime you're practicing renunciation, you're deluded. How about 
that! You're deluded. What are you renouncing? Anytime you 
renounce something, you are tied forever to the thing you renounce. 
There's a guru in India who says, "Every time a prostitute comes to 
me, she's talking about nothing but God. She says I 'm sick of this life 
that I 'm living. I want God. But every time a priest comes to me he's 
talking about nothing but sex". Very well, when you renounce 
something, you're stuck to it forever. When you fight something, 
you're tied to it forever. As long as you're fighting it, you are giving it 
power. You give it as much power as you are using to fight it. 

This includes communism and everything else. So you must "receive" 
your demons, because when you fight them, you empower them. Has 
nobody ever told you this? When you renounce something, you're 
tied to it. The only way to get out of this is to see through it. Don't 
renounce it, SEE THROUGH IT. Understand its true value and you 
won't need to renounce it; it will just drop from your hands. But of 
course, if you don't see that, if you're hypnotized into thinking that 
you won't be happy without this, that, or the other thing, you're 
stuck. What we need to do for you is not what so-called spirituality 

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attempts to do --namely, to get you to make sacrifices, to renounce 
tilings. Tliat's useiess. You're stiii asieep. Wliat we need to do is to 
heip you understand, understand, understand, if you understood, 
you'd simpiy drop tine desire for it. Tliis is anotlier way of saying: If 
you wol<e up, you'd simply drop the desire for it. 


Some of us get wol<en up by the harsh realities of life. We suffer so 
much that we wal<e up. But people l<eep bumping again and again 
into life. They still go on sleepwaking. They never wal<e up. 
Tragically, it never occurs to them that there may be another way. It 
never occurs to them that there may be a better way. Still, if you 
haven't been bumped sufficiently by life, and you haven't suffered 
enough, then there is another way: to listen. I don't mean you have 
to agree with what I 'm saying. 

That wouldn't be listening. Believe me, it really doesn't matter 
whether you agree with what I 'm saying or you don't. Because 
agreement and disagreement have to do with words and concepts 
and theories. They don't have anything to do with truth. Truth is 
never expressed in words. Truth is sighted suddenly, as a result of a 
certain attitude. So you could be disagreeing with me and still sight 
the truth. But there has to be an attitude of openness, of willingness 
to discover something new. That's important, not your agreeing with 
me or disagreeing with me. After all, most of what I 'm giving you is 
really theories. 

No theory adequately covers reality. So I can speak to you, not of the 
truth, but of obstacles to the truth. Those I can describe. I cannot 
describe the truth. No one can. All I can do is give you a description 
of your falsehoods, so that you can drop them. All I can do for you is 
challenge your beliefs and the belief system that makes you unhappy. 
All I can do for you is help you to unlearn. That's what learning is all 
about where spirituality is concerned: unlearning, unlearning almost 
everything you've been taught. A willingness to unlearn, to listen. 

Are you listening, as most people do, in order to confirm what you 
already think? Observe your reactions as I talk. Frequently you'll be 

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Startled or shocked or scandalized or irritated or annoyed or 
frustrated. Or you'll be saying, "Great! " But are you listening for 
what will confirm what you already think? Or are you listening in 
order to discover something new? That is important. It is difficult for 
sleeping people. Jesus proclaimed the good news, yet he was 
rejected. Not because it was good, but because it was new. We hate 
the new. We hate it! And the sooner we face up to that fact, the 
better. We don't want new things, particularly when they're 
disturbing, particularly when they involve change. Most particularly if 
it involves saying, "I was wrong". 

I remember meeting an eighty-seven-year-old Jesuit in Spain; he'd 
been my professor and rector in India thirty or forty years ago. And 
he attended a workshop like this. "I should have heard you speak 
sixty years ago", he said. "You know something. I've been wrong all 
my life". God, to listen to that! It's like looking at one of the wonders 
of the world. That, ladies and gentlemen, is faith! 

An openness to the truth, no matter what the consequences, no 
matter where it leads you and when you don't even know where it's 
going to lead you. That's faith. Not belief, but faith. Your beliefs give 
you a lot of security, but faith is insecurity. You don't know. You're 
ready to follow and you're open, you're wide open! You're ready to 
listen. And, mind you, being open does not mean being gullible, it 
doesn't mean swallowing whatever the speaker is saying. Oh no. 

You've got to challenge everything I'm saying. But challenge it from 
an attitude of openness, not from an attitude of stubbornness. And 
challenge it all. Recall those lovely words of Buddha when he said, 
"Monks and scholars must not accept my words out of respect, but 
must analyze them the way a goldsmith analyzes-gold by cutting, 
scraping, rubbing, melting". When you do that, you're listening. 
You've taken another major step toward awakening. The first step, as 
I said, was a readiness to admit that you don't want to wake up, that 
you don't want to be happy. There are all kinds of resistances to that 
within you. The second step is a readiness to understand, to listen, to 
challenge your whole belief system. Not just your religious beliefs, 
your political beliefs, your social beliefs, your psychological beliefs, 
but all of them. A readiness to reappraise them all, in the Buddha's 
metaphor. And I 'II give you plenty of opportunity to do that here. 

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Charity is really self-interest masquerading under the form of 
altruism. You say that it is very difficult to accept that there may be 
times when you are not honest to goodness really trying to be loving 
or trustful. Let me simplify it. Let's make it as simple as possible. 
Let's even make it as blunt and extreme as possible, at least to begin 
with. There are two types of selfishness. The first type is the one 
where I give myself the pleasure of pleasing myself. That's what we 
generally call self-centeredness. The second is when I give myself the 
pleasure of pleasing others. That would be a more refined kind of 

The first one is very obvious, but the second one is hidden, very 
hidden, and for that reason more dangerous, because we get to feel 
that we're really great. But maybe we're not all that great after all. 
You protest when I say that. That's great! You, madam, you say that, 
in your case, you live alone, and go to the rectory and give several 
hours of your time. But you also admit you're really doing it for a 
selfish reason - your need to be needed. And you also know you need 
to be needed in a way that makes you feel like you're contributing to 
the world a little bit. But you also claim that, because they also need 
you to do this, it's a two-way street. 

You're almost enlightened! We've got to learn from you. That's right. 
She is saying, "I give something, I get something". She is right. I go 
out to help, I give something, I get something. That's beautiful. 
That's true. That's real. That isn't charity, that's enlightened self- 
interest. And you, sir, you point out that the gospel of J esus is 
ultimately a gospel of self-interest. We achieve eternal life by our acts 
of charity. "Come blest of my Father, when I was hungry, you gave 
me to eat", and so on. You say that perfectly confirms what I 've said. 
When we look at Jesus, you say, we see that his acts of charity were 
acts of ultimate self-interest, to win souls for eternal life. And you see 
that as the whole thrust and meaning of life the achievement of self- 
interest by acts of charity. 

All right. But see, you are cheating a bit because you brought religion 
into this. It's legitimate. It's valid. But how would it be if I deal with 
the gospels, with the Bible, with Jesus, toward the END of this 
retreat. I will say this much now to complicate it even more. "I was 
hungry, and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to 

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drink", and what do they reply? "When? When did we do it? We didn't 
l<now it". They were unconscious! I sometimes have a horrid fantasy 
where the l<ing says, "I was hungry and you gave me to eat", and the 
people on the right side say, "That's right. Lord, we KNOW". "I wasn't 
talking to you", the king tells them. "It doesn't follow the script; 
you're not SUPPOSED to have known". Isn't that interesting? 

But YOU know. You know the inner pleasure you have while doing 
acts of charity. Aha!!! That's right! It's the opposite of someone who 
says, "What's so great about what I did? I did something, I got 
something. I had no notion I was doing anything good. My left hand 
had no idea what my right hand was doing". You know, a good is 
never so good as when you have no awareness that you're doing 
good. You are never so good as when you have no consciousness that 
you're good. Or as the great Sufi would say, "A saint is one until he 
or she knows it". Unselfconscious! Unselfconscious! 

Some of you object to this. You say, "Isn't the pleasure I receive in 
giving, isn't that eternal life right here and now"? I wouldn't know. I 
call pleasure, pleasure, and nothing more. For the time being, at least 
until we get into religion later on. But I want you to understand 
something right at the beginning, that religion is not - I repeat not - 
necessarily connected with spirituality. Please keep religion out of this 
for the time being. 

All right, you ask, what about the soldier who falls on a grenade to 
keep it from hurting others? And what about the man who got into a 
truck full of dynamite and drove into the American camp in Beirut? 
How about him? "Greater love than this no one has". But the 
Americans don't think so. He did it deliberately. He was terrible, 
wasn't he? But he wouldn't think so, I assure you. He thought he was 
going to heaven. That's right. J ust like your soldier falling on the 

I 'm trying to get at a picture of an action where there is not self, 
where you're awake and what you do is done through you. Your deed 
in that case becomes a happening. "Let it be done to me". I'm not 
excluding that. But when YOU do it, I'm searching for the selfishness. 
Even if it is only "I'll be remembered as a great hero", or "I'd never 
be able to live if I didn't do this. I 'd never be able to live with the 
thought if I ran away". But remember, I'm not excluding the other 
kind of act. 

I didn't say that there never is any act where there is not self. Maybe 

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there is. We'll have to explore that. A mother saving a child - saving 
HER child, you say. But how come she's not saving the neighbor's 
child? It's the HERS. It's the soldier dying for his country. Many such 
deaths bother me. I ask myself, "Are they the result of 
brainwashing"? Martyrs bother me. I think they're often brainwashed. 
Muslim martyrs, Hindu martyrs, Buddhist martyrs. Christian martyrs, 
they are brainwashed! 

They've got an idea in their heads that they must die, that death is a 
great thing. They feel nothing, they go right in. But not all of them, 
so listen to me properly. I didn't say ALL of them, but I wouldn't 
exclude the possibility. Lots of communists get brainwashed (you're 
ready to believe that). They're so brainwashed they're ready to die. 

I sometimes say to myself that the process that we use for making, 
for example, a St. Francis Xavier could be exactly the same process 
used for producing terrorists. You can have a man go on a thirty-day 
retreat and come out all aflame with the love of Christ, yet without 
the slightest bit of self-awareness. None. He could be a big pain. He 
thinks he's a great saint. I don't mean to slander Francis Xavier, who 
probably was a great saint, but he was a difficult man to live with. 

You know he was a lousy superior, he really was! Do a historical 
investigation. Ignatius always had to step in to undo the harm that 
this good man was doing by his intolerance. You need to be pretty 
intolerant to achieve what he achieved. Go, go, go, go - no matter 
how many corpses fall by the wayside. Some critics of Francis Xavier 
claim exactly that. He used to dismiss men from our Society and 
they'd appeal to Ignatius, who would say, "Come to Rome and we'll 
talk about it". And Ignatius surreptitiously got them in again. How 
much self-awareness was there in this situation? Who are we to 
judge, we don't know. 

I'm not saying there's no such thing as pure motivation. I'm saying 
that ordinarily everything we do is in our self-interest. Everything. 
When you do something for the love of Christ, is that selfishness? 
Yes. When you're doing something for the love of anybody, it is in 
your self-interest. I'll have to explain that. 

Suppose you happen to live in Phoenix and you feed over five 
hundred children a day. That gives you a good feeling? Well, would 
you expect it to give you a bad feeling? But sometimes it does. And 
that is because there are some people who do things so that they 
won't HAVE TO HAVE A BAD FEELI NG. And they call THAT charity. 

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They act out of guilt. That isn't love. But, thank God, you do things 
for people and it's pleasurable. Wonderful! You're a healthy individual 
because you're SELF-INTERESTED. That's healthy. 

Let me summarize what I was saying about selfless charity. I said 
there were two types of selfishness; maybe I should have said three. 
First, when I do something, or rather, when I give myself the 
pleasure of pleasing myself; second, when I give myself the pleasure 
of pleasing others. Don't take pride in that. Don't think you're a great 
person. You're a very ordinary person, but you've got refined tastes. 

Your taste is good, not the quality of your spirituality. When you were 
a child, you liked Coca-Cola; now you've grown older and you 
appreciate chilled beer on a hot day. You've got better tastes now. 
When you were a child, you loved chocolates; now you're older, you 
enjoy a symphony, you enjoy a poem. You've got better tastes. But 
you're getting your pleasure all the same, except now it's in the 
pleasure of pleasing others. 

Then you've got the third type, which is the worst when you do 
something good so that you won't get a bad feeling. It doesn't give 
you a good feeling to do it; it gives you a bad feeling to do it. You 
hate it. You're making loving sacrifices but you're grumbling. Ha! How 
little you know of yourself if you think you don't do things this way. 

If I had a dollar for every time I did things that gave me a bad 
feeling, I'd be a millionaire by now. You know how it goes. "Could I 
meet you tonight. Father"? "Yes, come on in!" I don't want to meet 
him and I hate meeting him. I want to watch that TV show tonight, 
but how do I say no to him? I don't have the guts to say no. "Come 
on in", and I 'm thinking, "Oh God, I 've got to put up with this pain". 

It doesn't give me a good feeling to meet with him and it doesn't give 
me a good feeling to say no to him, so I choose the lesser of the two 
evils and I say, "O.K., come on in". I'm going to be happy when this 
thing is over and I 'II be able to take my smile off, but I start the 
session with him "How are you"? "Wonderful", he says, and he goes 
on and on about how he loves that workshop, and I'm thinking, "Oh 
God, when is he going to come to the point"? 

Finally he comes to the point, and I metaphorically slam him against 
the wall and say, "Well, any fool could solve that kind of problem", 
and I send him out. "Whew! Got rid of him", I say. And the next 
morning at breakfast (because I'm feeling I was so rude) I go up to 

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him and say, "How's life"? And lie answers, "Pretty good". And he 
adds, "You l<now, what you said to me last night was a real help. Can 
I meet you today, after lunch"? Oh God! 

That's the worst kind of charity, when you're doing something so you 
won't get a bad feeling. You don't have the guts to say you want to 
be left alone. You want people to think you're a good priest! When 
you say, "I don't like hurting people", I say, "Come off it! I don't 
believe you". I don't believe anyone who says that he or she does not 
like hurting people. We love to hurt people, especially some people. 
We love it. 

And when someone else is doing the hurting we rejoice in it. But we 
don't want to do the hurting ourselves because we'll get hurt! Ah, 
there it is. If we do the hurting, others will have a bad opinion of us. 
They won't like us, they'll talk against us and we don't like that! 


Life is a banquet. And the tragedy is that most people are starving to 
death. That's what I 'm really talking about. There's a nice story about 
some people who were on a raft off the coast of Brazil perishing from 
thirst. They had no idea that the water they were floating on was 
fresh water. The river was coming out into the sea with such force 
that it went out for a couple of miles, so they had fresh water right 
there where they were. But they had no idea. In the same way, we're 
surrounded with joy, with happiness, with love. Most people have no 
idea of this whatsoever. 

The reason - They're brainwashed. The reason - They're hypnotized; 
they're asleep. Imagine a stage magician who hypnotizes someone so 
that the person sees what is not there and does not see what is 
there. That's what it's all about. Repent and accept the good news. 
Repent! Wake up! Don't weep for your sins. Why weep for sins that 
you committed when you were asleep? Are you going to cry because 
of what you did in your hypnotized state? 

Why do you want to identify with a person like this? Wake up! Wake 
up! Repent! Put on a new mind. Take on a new way of looking at 
things! For "the kingdom is here!" It's the rare Christian who takes 

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that seriously. I said to you that the first thing you need to do is 
wal<e up, to face the fact that you don't lil<e being wol<en up. You'd 
much rather have all of the things which you were hypnotized into 
believing are so precious to you, so important to you, so important 
for your life and your survival. 

Second, understand. Understand that maybe you've got the wrong 
ideas and it is these ideas that are influencing your life and making it 
the mess that it is and keeping you asleep. Ideas about love, ideas 
about freedom, ideas about happiness, and so forth. And it isn't easy 
to listen to someone who would challenge those ideas of yours which 
have come to be so precious to you. 

There have been some interesting studies in brainwashing. It has 
been shown that you're brainwashed when you take on or "introject" 
an idea that isn't yours, that is someone else's. And the funny thing is 
that you'll be ready to die for this idea. Isn't that strange? The first 
test of whether you've been brainwashed and have introjected 
convictions and beliefs occurs the moment they're attacked. 

You feel stunned, you react emotionally. That's a pretty good sign - 
not infallible, but a pretty good sign - that we're dealing with 
brainwashing. You're ready to die for an idea that never was yours. 
Terrorists or saints (so called) take on an idea, swallow it whole, and 
are ready to die for it. It's not easy to listen, especially when you get 
emotional about an idea. 

And even when you don't get emotional about it, it's not easy to 
listen; you're always listening from your programming, from your 
conditioning, from your hypnotic state. You frequently interpret 
everything that's being said in terms of your hypnotic state or your 
conditioning or your programming. Like this girl who's listening to a 
lecture on agriculture and says, "Excuse me, sir, you know I agree 
with you completely that the best manure is aged horse manure. 

Would you tell us how old the horse should optimally be"? See where 
she's coming from? We all have our positions, don't we? And we 
listen from those positions. "Henry, how you've changed! You were so 
tall and you've grown so short. You were so well built and you've 
grown so thin. You were so fair and you've become so dark. What 
happened to you, Henry"? Henry says, "I 'm not Henry. I 'm J ohn". 
"Oh, you changed your name too!" How do you get people like that to 

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The most difficult tiling in the worid is to listen, to see. We don't want 
to see. Do you thinl< a capitalist wants to see what is good in the 
communist system? Do you think a communist wants to see what is 
good and healthy in the capitalist system? Do you think a rich man 
wants to look at poor people? We don't want to look, because if we 
do, we may change. We don't want to look. If you look, you lose 
control of the life that you are so precariously holding together. 

And so in order to wake up, the one thing you need the most is not 
energy, or strength, or youthfulness, or even great intelligence. The 
one thing you need most of all is the readiness to learn something 
new. The chances that you will wake up are in direct proportion to the 
amount of truth you can take without running away. How much are 
you ready to take? How much of everything you've held dear are you 
ready to have shattered, without running away? How ready are you 
to think of something unfamiliar? 

The first reaction is one of fear. It's not that we fear the unknown. 
You cannot fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of 
the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That's 
what you fear. By way of an example, I made the point that 
everything we do is tainted with selfishness. That isn't easy to hear. 
But think now for a minute, let's go a little deeper into that. If 
everything you do comes from self-interest, enlightened or otherwise, 
how does that make you feel about all your charity and all your good 
deeds? What happens to those? Here's a little exercise for you. Think 
of all the good deeds you've done, or of some of them (because I 'm 
only giving you a few seconds). Now understand that they really 
sprang from self-interest, whether you knew it or not. 

What happens to your pride? What happens to your vanity? What 
happens to that good feeling you gave yourself, that pat on the back 
every time you did something that you thought was so charitable? It 
gets flattened out, doesn't it? What happens to that looking down 
your nose at your neighbor who you thought was so selfish? The 
whole thing changes, doesn't it? "Well", you say, "my neighbor has 
coarser tastes than I do". You're the more dangerous person, you 
really are. J esus Christ seems to have had less trouble with the other 
type than with your type. Much less trouble. He ran into trouble with 
people who were really convinced they were good. 

Other types didn't seem to give him much trouble at all, the ones 
who were openly selfish and knew it. Can you see how liberating that 
is? Hey, wake up! It's liberating. It's wonderful! Are you feeling 

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depressed? Maybe you are. Isn't it wonderful to realize you're no 
better than anybody else in this world? Isn't it wonderful? Are you 
disappointed? Look what we've brought to light! What happens to 
your vanity? You'd like to give yourself a good feeling that you're 
better than others. But look how we brought a fallacy to light! 


To me, selfishness seems to come out of an instinct for self- 
preservation, which is our deepest and first instinct. How can we opt 
for selflessness? It would be almost like opting for non-being. To me, 
it would seem to be the same thing as non-being. Whatever it is, I 'm 
saying: Stop feeling bad about being selfish; we're all the same. 
Someone once had a terribly beautiful thing to say about Jesus. 

This person wasn't even Christian. He said, "The lovely thing about 
Jesus was that he was so at home with sinners, because he 
understood that he wasn't one bit better than they were". We differ 
from others - from criminals, for example - only in what we do or 
don't do, NOT I N WHAT WE ARE. The only difference between J esus 
and those others was that he was awake and they weren't. Look at 
people who win the lottery. 

Do they say, "I 'm so proud to accept this prize, not for myself, but for 
my nation and my society". Does anybody talk like that when they 
win the lottery? No. Because they were LUCKY, LUCKY. So they won 
the lottery, first prize. Anything to be proud of in that? 

In the same way, if you achieved enlightenment, you would do so in 
the interest of self and you would be lucky. Do you want to glory in 
that? What's there to glory about? Can't you see how utterly stupid it 
is to be vain about your good deeds? The Pharisee wasn't an evil 
man, he was a stupid man. He was stupid, not evil. He didn't stop to 
think. Someone once said, "I dare not stop to think, because if I did, 
I wouldn't know how to get started again". 

Next Section 02 

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Pick any section from Here 

NewTriLite List 

Cosmic Cookies List 

Cosmic Cooicies 


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Wisdom from Anthony de 


... Articles ... Essays ... Stories ... Sayings ... 




So if you stop to think, you would see tiiat tiiere's notiiing to be very 
proud of after all. What does this do to your relationship with people? 
What are you complaining about? A young man came to complain 
that his girlfriend had let him down, that she had played false. What 
are you complaining about? Did you expect any better? Expect the 
worst, you're dealing with selfish people. You're the idiot - you 
glorified her, didn't you? 

You thought she was a princess, you thought people were nice. 
They're not! They're not nice. They're as bad as you are - bad, you 
understand? They're asleep like you. And what do you think they are 
going to seek? Their own self-interest, exactly like you. No difference. 
Can you imagine how liberating it is that you'll never be disillusioned 
again, never be disappointed again? You'll never feel let down again. 
Never feel rejected. Want to wake up? You want happiness? You want 
freedom? Here it is: Drop your false ideas. See through people. If you 
see through yourself, you will see through everyone. Then you will 
love them. Otherwise you spend the whole time grappling with your 
wrong notions of them, with your illusions that are constantly 
crashing against reality. 

It's probably too startling for many of you to understand that 
everyone except the very rare awakened person can be expected to 

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be selfish and to seek his or her own self-interest whether in coarse 
or in refined ways. This leads you to see that there's nothing to be 
disappointed about, nothing to be disillusioned about. If you had been 
in touch with reality all along, you would never have been 
disappointed. But you chose to paint people in glowing colors; you 
chose not to see through human beings because you chose not to see 
through yourself. So you're paying the price now. 

Before we discuss this, let me tell you a story. Somebody once asked, 
"What is enlightenment like? What is awakening like"? It's like the 
tramp in London who was settling in for the night. He'd hardly been 
able to get a crust of bread to eat. Then he reaches this embankment 
on the river Thames. There was a slight drizzle, so he huddled in his 
old tattered cloak. He was about to go to sleep when suddenly a 
chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce pulls up. Out of the car steps a beautiful 
young lady who says to him, "My poor man, are you planning on 
spending the night here on this embankment"? 

And the tramp says, "Yes". She says, "I won't have it. You're coming 
to my house and you're going to spend a comfortable night and 
you're going to get a good dinner". She insists on his getting into the 
car. Well, they ride out of London and get to a place where she has a 
sprawling mansion with large grounds. They are ushered in by the 
butler, to whom she says, "James, please make sure he's put in the 
servants' quarters and treated well". Which is what James does. The 
young lady had undressed and was about to go to bed when she 
suddenly remembers her guest for the night. 

So she slips something on and pads along the corridor to the 
servants' quarters. She sees a little chink of light from the room 
where the tramp was put up. She taps lightly at the door, opens it, 
and finds the man awake. She says, "What's the trouble, my good 
man, didn't you get a good meal"? He said, "Never had a better meal 
in my life, lady". "Are you warm enough"? He says, "Yes, lovely warm 
bed". Then she says, "Maybe you need a little company. Why don't 
you move over a bit". And she comes closer to him and he moves 
over and falls right into the Thames. 

Ha! You didn't expect that one! Enlightenment! Enlightenment! Wake 
up. When you're ready to exchange your illusions for reality, when 
you're ready to exchange your dreams for facts, that's the way you 
find it all. That's where life finally becomes meaningful. Life becomes 
beautiful. There's a story about Ramirez. He is old and living up there 
in his castle on a hill. He looks out the window (he's in bed and 

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paralyzed) and he sees his enemy. Old as he is, leaning on a cane, 
his enemy is climbing up the hill - slowly, painfully. It takes him 
about two and a half hours to get up the hill. 

There's nothing Ramirez can do because the servants have the day 
off. So his enemy opens the door, comes straight to the bedroom, 
puts his hand inside his cloak, and pulls out a gun. He says, "At last, 
Ramirez, we're going to settle scores!" Ramirez tries his level best to 
talk him out of it. He says, "Come on, Borgia, you can't do that. You 
know I 'm no longer the man who ill-treated you as that youngster 
years ago, and you're no longer that youngster. Come off it!" "Oh 
no", says his enemy, "your sweet words aren't going to deter me 
from this divine mission of mine. 

It's revenge I want and there's nothing you can do about it". And 
Ramirez says, "But there is!" "What"? asks his enemy. "I can wake 
up", says Ramirez. And he did; he woke up! That's what 
enlightenment is like. When someone tells you, "There is nothing you 
can do about it", you say, "There is, I can wake up!" All of a sudden, 
life is no longer the nightmare that it has seemed. Wake up! 

Somebody came up to me with a question. What do you think the 
question was? He asked me, "Are you enlightened"? What do you 
think my answer was? What does it matter! You want a better 
answer? My answer would be: "How would I know? How would you 
know? What does it matter"? You know something? If you want 
anything too badly, you're in big trouble. You know something else? 
If I were enlightened and you listened to me because I was 
enlightened, then you're in big trouble. 

Are you ready to be brainwashed by someone who's enlightened? You 
can be brainwashed by anybody, you know. What does it matter 
whether someone's enlightened or not? But see, we want to lean on 
someone, don't we? We want to lean on anybody we think has 
arrived. We love to hear that people have arrived. It gives us hope, 
doesn't it? What do you want to hope for? Isn't that another form of 
desire? You want to hope for something better than what you have 
right now, don't you? Otherwise you wouldn't be hoping. But then, 
you forget that you have it all right now anyway, and you don't know 
it. Why not concentrate on the now instead of hoping for better times 
in the future? Why not understand the now instead of forgetting it 
and hoping for the future? Isn't the future just another trap? 

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The only way someone can be of help to you is in challenging your 
ideas. If you're ready to listen and if you're ready to be challenged, 
there's one thing that you can do, but NO ONE CAN HELP YOU. What 
is this most important thing of all? It's called self-observation. No one 
can help you there. No one can give you a method. No one can show 
you a technique. The moment you pick up a technique, you're 
programmed again. But self-observation - watching yourself - is 
important. It is not the same as self-absorption. 

Self-absorption is self- preoccupation, where you're concerned about 
yourself, worried about yourself. I'm talking about self- 
OBSERVATION. What's that? It means to watch everything in you and 
around you as far as possible and watch it as if it were happening to 
someone else. What does that last sentence mean? It means that you 
do not personalize what is happening to you. It means that you look 
at things as if you have no connection with them whatsoever. 

The reason you suffer from your depression and your anxieties is that 
you identify with them. You say, "I'm depressed". But that is false. 
You are not depressed. If you want to be accurate, you might say, "I 
am experiencing a depression right now". But you can hardly say, "I 
am depressed". You are not your depression. That is but a strange 
kind of tuck of the mind, a strange kind of illusion. 

You have deluded yourself into thinking - though you are not aware 
of it - that you ARE your depression, that you ARE your anxiety, that 
you ARE your joy or the thrills that you have. "I am delighted!" You 
certainly are not delighted. Delight may be IN you right now, but wait 
around, it will change. It won't last: it never lasts; it keeps changing; 
it's always changing. Clouds come and go: some of them are black 
and some white, some of them are large, others small. If we want to 
follow the analogy, you would be the sky, observing the clouds. You 
are a passive, detached observer. That's shocking, particularly to 
someone in the Western culture. You're not interfering. Don't 
interfere. Don't "fix" anything. Watch! Observe! The trouble with 
people is that they're busy fixing things they don't even understand. 
We're always fixing things, aren't we? It never strikes us that things 
don't need to be fixed. They really don't. This is a great illumination. 
They need to be understood. If you understood them, they'd change. 

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Do you want to change the world? How about beginning with 
yourself? How about being transformed yourself first? But how do you 
achieve that? Through observation. Through understanding. With no 
interference or judgment on your part. Because what you judge you 
cannot understand. When you say of someone, "He's a communist", 
understanding has stopped at that moment. You slapped a label on 
him. "She's a capitalist". Understanding has stopped at that moment. 
You slapped a label on her, and if the label carries undertones of 
approval or disapproval, so much the worse! How are you going to 
understand what you disapprove of, or what you approve of, for that 
matter? All of this sounds like a new world, doesn't it? 

No judgment, no commentary, no attitude: one simply observes, one 
studies, one watches, without the desire to change what is. Because 
if you desire to change what is into what you think SHOULD be, you 
no longer understand. A dog trainer attempts to understand a dog so 
that he can train the dog to perform certain tricks. A scientist 
observes the behavior of ants with no further end in view than to 
study ants, to learn as much as possible about them. He has no other 
aim. He's not attempting to train them or get anything out of them. 
He's interested in ants, he wants to learn as much as possible about 
them. That's his attitude. The day you attain a posture like that, you 
will experience a miracle. You will change - effortlessly, correctly. 
Change will happen, you will not have to bring it about. As the life of 
awareness settles on your darkness, whatever is evil will disappear. 
Whatever is good will be fostered. You will have to experience that for 

But this calls for a disciplined mind. And when I say disciplined, I'm 
not talking about effort. I'm talking about something else. Have you 
ever studied an athlete. His or her whole life is sports, but what a 
disciplined life he or she leads. And look at a river as it moves toward 
the sea. It creates its own banks that contain it. When there's 
something within you that moves in the right direction, it creates its 
own discipline. The moment you get bitten by the bug of awareness. 
Oh, it's so delightful! It's the most delightful thing in the world; the 

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most important, the most delightful. There's nothing so important in 
the world as awakening. Nothing! And, of course, it is also discipline 
in its own way. 

There's nothing so delightful as being aware. Would you rather live in 
darkness? Would you rather act and not be aware of your actions, 
talk and not be aware of your words? Would you rather listen to 
people and not be aware of what you're hearing, or see things and 
not be aware of what you're looking at? The great Socrates said, "The 
unaware life is not worth living". That's a self-evident truth. Most 
people don't live aware lives. They live mechanical lives, mechanical 
thoughts - generally somebody else's - mechanical emotions, 
mechanical actions, mechanical reactions. 

Do you want to see how mechanical you really are? "My, that's a 
lovely shirt you're wearing". You feel good hearing that. For a shirt, 
for heaven's sake! You feel proud of yourself when you hear that. 
People come over to my center in I ndia and they say, "What a lovely 
place, these lovely trees" (for which I'm not responsible at all), "this 
lovely climate". And already I'm feeling good, until I catch myself 
feeling good, and I say, "Hey, can you imagine anything as stupid as 
that"? I 'm not responsible for those trees; I wasn't responsible for 
choosing the location. I didn't order the weather; it just happened. 

But "me" got in there, so I'm feeling good. I'm feeling good about 
"my" culture and "my" nation. How stupid can you get? I mean that. 
I'm told my great Indian culture has produced all these mystics. I 
didn't produce them. I 'm not responsible for them. Or they tell me, 
"That country of yours and its poverty - it's disgusting". I feel 
ashamed. But I didn't create it. What's going on? Did you ever stop to 
think? People tell you, "I think you're very charming", so I feel 
wonderful. I get a positive stroke (that's why they call it I 'm O.K., 
you're O.K.). I'm going to write a book someday and the title will be 
I'M AN ASS, YOU'RE AN ASS. That's the most liberating, wonderful 
thing in the world, when you openly admit you're an ass. It's 
wonderful. When people tell me, "You're wrong". I say, "What can 
you expect of an ass"? 

Disarmed, everybody has to be disarmed. I n the final liberation, I 'm 
an ass, you're an ass. Normally the way it goes, I press a button and 
you're up; I press another button and you're down. And you like that. 
How many people do you know who are unaffected by praise or 
blame? That isn't human, we say. Human means that you have to be 
a little monkey, so everybody can twist your tail, and you do 

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whatever you OUGHT to be doing. But is tiiat iiuman? If you find me 
charming, it means that right now you're in a good mood, nothing 
more. It also means that I fit your shopping list. We all carry a 
shopping list around, and it's as though you've got to measure up to 
this list - tall, um, dark, um, handsome, according to MY tastes. "I 
like the sound of his voice". You say, "I'm in love". You're not in love, 
you silly ass. Any time you're in love - I hesitate to say this - you're 
being particularly asinine. Sit down and watch what's happening to 

You're running away from yourself. You want to escape. Somebody 
once said, "Thank God for reality, AND for the means to escape from 
it". So that's what's going on. We are so mechanical, so controlled. 
We write books about being controlled and how wonderful it is to be 
controlled and how necessary it is that people tell you you're O.K. 
Then you'll have a good feeling about yourself. How wonderful it is to 
be in prison! Or as somebody said to me yesterday, to be in your 
cage. Do you like being in prison? Do you like being controlled? Let 
me tell you something: If you ever let yourself feel good when people 
tell you that you're O.K., you are preparing yourself to feel bad when 
they tell you - you're not good. As long as you live to fulfill other 
people's expectations, you better watch what you wear, how you 
comb your hair, whether your shoes are polished - in short, whether 
you live up to every damned expectation of theirs. Do you call that 

This is what you'll discover when you observe yourself! You'll be 
horrified! The fact of the matter is that you're neither O.K. nor not O. 
K. You may fit the current mood or trend or fashion! Does that mean 
you've become O.K.? Does your O.K.-ness depend on that? Does it 
depend on what people think of you? J esus Christ must have been 
pretty "not O.K". by those standards. You're not O.K. and you're not 
not O.K., you're you. 

I hope that is going to be the big discovery, at least for some of you. 
If three or four of you make this discovery during these days we 
spend together, my, what a wonderful thing! Extraordinary! Cut out 
all the O.K. stuff and the not-O.K. stuff; cut out all the judgments 
and simply observe, watch. You'll make great discoveries. These 
discoveries will change you. You won't have to make the slightest 
effort, believe me. 

This reminds me of this fellow in London after the war. He's sitting 
with a parcel wrapped in brown paper in his lap; it's a big, heavy 

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object. The bus conductor comes up to him and says, "What do you 
have on your lap there"? And the man says, "This is an unexploded 
bomb. We dug it out of the garden and I 'm tal<ing it to the police 
station". The conductor says, "You don't want to carry that on your 
lap. Put it under the seat". Psychology and spirituality (as we 
generally understand it) transfer the bomb from your lap to under 
your seat. They don't really solve your problems. They exchange your 
problems for other problems. Has that ever struck you? You had a 
problem, now you exchange it for another one. It's always going to 
be that way until we solve the problem called "you". 


Until then, we're going to get nowhere. The great mystics and 
masters in the East will say, "Who are YOU"? Many think the most 
important question in the world is: "Who is Jesus Christ"? Wrong! 
Many think it is: "Does God exist"? Wrong! Many think it is: "Is there 
a life after death"? Wrong! Nobody seems to be grappling with the 
problem of: Is there a life BEFORE death? 

Yet my experience is that it's precisely the ones who don't know what 
to do with THIS life who are all hot and bothered about what they are 
going to do with ANOTHER life. One sign that you're awakened is that 
you don't give a damn about what's going to happen in the next life. 
You're not bothered about it; you don't care. You are not interested, 

Do you know what eternal life is? You think it's everlasting life. But 
your own theologians will tell you that that is crazy, because 
everlasting is still within time. It is time perduring forever. Eternal 
means timeless no time. The human mind cannot understand that. 
The human mind can understand time and can deny time. What is 
timeless is beyond our comprehension. Yet the mystics tell us that 
eternity is right now. 

How's that for good news? It is right now. People are so distressed 
when I tell them to forget their past. They are so proud of their past. 
Or they are so ashamed of their past. They're crazy! J ust drop it! 
When you hear "Repent for your past", realize it's a great religious 
distraction from waking up. Wake up! That's what repent means. Not 

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"weep for your sins". Wake up! Understand, stop all the crying, 
Understand! Wake up! 


The great masters tell us that the most important question in the 
world is: "Who am I"? Or rather: "What is 'I'"? What is this thing I call 
"I"? What is this thing I call self? You mean you understood 
everything else in the world and you didn't understand this? You 
mean you under-stood astronomy and black holes and quasars and 
you picked up computer science, and you don't know who you are? 
My, you are still asleep. You are a sleeping scientist. You mean you 
understood what Jesus Christ is and you don't know who you are? 
How do you know that you have understood J esus Christ? Who is the 
person doing the understanding? 

Find that out first. That's the foundation of everything, isn't it? It's 
because we haven't understood this that we've got all these stupid 
religious people involved in all these stupid religious wars -- Muslims 
fighting against Jews, Protestants fighting Catholics, and all the rest 
of that rubbish. They don't know who they are, because if they did, 
there wouldn't be wars. Like the little girl who says to a little boy, 
"Are you a Presbyterian"? And he says, "No, we belong to another 

But what I'd like to stress right now is self-observation. You are 
listening to me, but are you picking up any other sounds besides the 
sound of my voice as you listen to me? Are you aware of YOUR 
reactions as you listen to me? If you aren't, you're going to be 
brainwashed. Or else you are going to be influenced by forces within 
you of which you have no awareness at all. And even if you're aware 
of how you react to me, are you simultaneously aware of where your 
reaction is coming from? Maybe you are not listening to me at all; 
maybe your daddy is listening to me. Do you think that's possible? Of 
course it is. 

Again and again in my therapy groups I come across people who 
aren't there at all. Their daddy is there, their mummy is there, but 
they're not there. They never were there. "I live now, not I, but my 

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daddy lives in me". Well, that's absolutely, literally true. I could take 
you apart piece by piece and ask, "Now, this sentence, does it come 
from Daddy, Mummy, Grandma, Grandpa, whom"? Who's living in 
you? It's pretty horrifying when you come to know that. You think 
you are free, but there probably isn't a gesture, a thought, an 
emotion, an attitude, a belief in you that isn't coming from someone 
else. Isn't that horrible? And you don't know it. Talk about a 
mechanical life that was stamped into you. You feel pretty strongly 
about certain things, and you think it is you who are feeling strongly 
about them, but are you really? It's going to take a lot of awareness 
for you to understand that perhaps this thing you call "I " is simply a 
conglomeration of your past experiences, of your conditioning and 

That's painful. In fact, when you're beginning to awaken, you 
experience a great deal of pain. It's painful to see your illusions being 
shattered. Everything that you thought you had built up crumbles and 
that's painful. That's what repentance is all about; that's what waking 
up is all about. So how about taking a minute, right where you're 
sitting now, to be aware, even as I talk, of what you're feeling in your 
body, and what's going on in your mind, and what your emotional 
state is like? How about being aware of the blackboard, if your eyes 
are open, and the color of these walls and the material they're made 
of? How about being aware of my face and the reaction you have to 
this face of mine? Because you have a reaction whether you're aware 
of it or not. And it probably isn't your reaction, but one you were 
conditioned to have. And how about being aware of some of the 
things I just said, although that wouldn't be awareness, because 
that's just memory now. 

Be aware of your presence in this room. Say to yourself, "I 'm in this 
room". It's as if you were outside yourself looking at yourself. Notice 
a slightly different feeling than if you were looking at things in the 
room. Later we'll ask, "Who is this person who is doing the looking"? I 
am looking at me. What's an "I "? What's "me"? For the time being it's 
enough that I watch me, but if you find yourself condemning yourself 
or approving yourself, don't stop the condemnation and don't stop 
the judgment or approval, just watch it. I 'm condemning me; I 'm 
disapproving of me; I'm approving of me. Just look at it, period. 
Don't try to change it! Don't say, "Oh, we were told not to do this". 
J ust observe what's going on. As I said to you before, self- 
observation means watching -- observing whatever is going on in you 
and around you as if it were happening to someone else. 

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I suggest another exercise now. Would you write down on a piece of 
paper any brief way you would describe yourself - for example, 
businessman, priest, human being. Catholic, Jew, anything. Some 
write, I notice, things like, fruitful, searching pilgrim, competent, 
alive, impatient, centered, flexible, reconciler, lover, member of the 
human race, overly structured. This is the fruit, I trust, of observing 
yourself. As if you were watching another person. 

But notice, you've got "I" observing "me". This is an interesting 
phenomenon that has never ceased to cause wonder to philosophers, 
mystics, scientists, psychologists, that the "I" can observe "me". It 
would seem that animals are not able to do this at all. It would seem 
that one needs a certain amount of intelligence to be able to do this. 
What I'm going to give you now is not metaphysics; it is not 

It is plain observation and common sense. The great mystics of the 
East are really referring to that "I ", not to the "me". As a matter of 
fact, some of these mystics tell us that we begin first with things, 
with an awareness of things; then we move on to an awareness of 
thoughts (that's the "me"); and finally we get to awareness of the 
thinker. THINGS, THOUGHTS, THINKER. What we're really searching 
for is the thinker. Can the thinker know himself? Can I know what "I " 
is? Some of these mystics reply, "Can the knife cut itself? Can the 
tooth bite itself? Can the eye see itself? Can the 'I' know itself"? But I 
am concerned with something infinitely more practical right now, and 
that is with deciding what the "I " is not. I 'II go as slowly as possible 
because the consequences are devastating. Terrific or terrifying, 
depending on your point of view. 

Listen to this: Am I my thoughts, the thoughts that I am thinking? 
No. Thoughts come and go; I am not my thoughts. Am I my body? 
They tell us that millions of cells in our body are changed or are 
renewed every minute, so that by the end of seven years we don't 
have a single living cell in our body that was there seven years 
before. Cells come and go. Cells arise and die. But "I" seems to 
persist. So am I my body? Evidently not! 

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"I" is something otiier and more than the body. You might say the 
body is part of "I", but it is a changing part. It l<eeps moving, it l<eeps 
changing. We have the same name for it but it constantly changes. 
J ust as we have the same name for Niagara Falls, but Niagara Falls is 
constituted by water that is constantly changing. We use the same 
name for an ever-changing reality. How about my name? I s "I " my 
name? Evidently not, because I can change my name without 
changing the "I". How about my career? How about my beliefs? I say 
I am a Catholic, a J ew - is that an essential part of "I "? When I move 
from one religion to another, has the "I" changed? Do I have a new 
"I " or is it the same "I " that has changed? I n other words, is my 
name an essential part of me, of the "I "? I s my religion an essential 
part of the "1"? 

I mentioned the little girl who says to the boy, "Are you a 
Presbyterian"? Well, somebody told me another story, about Paddy. 
Paddy was walking down the street in Belfast and he discovers a gun 
pressing against the back of his head and a voice says". Are you 
Catholic or Protestant"? Well, Paddy has to do some pretty fast 
thinking. He says, "I 'm a J ew". And he hears a voice say, "I 've got to 
be the luckiest Arab in the whole of Belfast". Labels are so important 
to us. "I am a Republican", we say. But are you really? You can't 
mean that when you switch parties you have a new "I". Isn't it the 
same old "I" with new political convictions? I remember hearing 
about a man who asks his friend, "Are you planning to vote 
Republican"? The friend says, "No, I'm planning to vote Democratic. 

My father was a Democrat, my grandfather was a Democrat, and my 
great-grandfather was a Democrat". The man says, "That is crazy 
logic. I mean, if your father was a horse thief, and your grandfather 
was a horse thief, and your great-grandfather was a horse thief, what 
would you be"? "Ah", the friend answered, "then I 'd be a Republican". 
We spend so much of our lives reacting to labels, our own and 
others'. We identify the labels with the "I". Catholic and Protestant 
are frequent labels. There was a man who went to the priest and 
said, "Father, I want you to say a Mass for my dog". The priest was 
indignant. "What do you mean, say a Mass for your dog"? "It's my 
pet dog", said the man. "I loved that dog and I'd like you to offer a 
Mass for him". 

The priest said, "We don't offer Masses for dogs here. You might try 
the denomination down the street. Ask them if they might have a 
service for you". As the man was leaving, he said to the priest, "Too 

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bad. I really loved that dog. I was planning to offer a million-dollar 
stipend for the Mass". And the priest said, "Wait a minute, you never 
told me your dog was Catholic". When you're caught up in labels, 
what value do these labels have, as far as the "I" is concerned? Could 
we say that "I " is none of the labels we attach to it? Labels belong to 
"me". What constantly changes is "me". Does "I" ever change? Does 
the observer ever change? The fact is that no matter what labels you 
think of (except perhaps human being) you should apply them to 
"me". "I " is none of these things. So when you step out of yourself 
and observe "me", you no longer identify with "me". Suffering exists 
in "me", so when you identify "I" with "me", suffering begins. 

Say that you are afraid or desirous or anxious. When "I " does not 
identify with money, or name, or nationality, or persons, or friends, 
or any quality, the "I " is never threatened. It can be very active, but 
it isn't threatened. Think of anything that caused or is causing you 
pain or worry or anxiety. First, can you pick up the desire under that 
suffering, that there's something you desire very keenly or else you 
wouldn't be suffering. What is that desire? Second, it isn't simply a 
desire; there's an identification there. You have somehow said to 
yourself, "The well-being of 'I ,' almost the existence of 'I ,' is tied up 
with this desire". All suffering is caused by my identifying myself with 
something, whether that something is within me or outside of me. 



At one of my conferences, someone made the following observation: 
"I want to share with you something wonderful that happened to me. 
I went to the movies and I was working shortly after that and I was 
really having trouble with three people in my life. So I said, 'All right, 
just like I learned at the movies, I 'm going to come outside myself. 
For a couple of hours, I got in touch with my feelings, with how badly 
I felt toward these three people. 

I said, 'I really hate those people.' Then I said, 'Jesus, what can you 
do about all that?' A little while later I began to cry, because I 
realized that J esus died for those very people and they couldn't help 
how they were, anyway. That afternoon I had to go to the office, 
where I spoke to those people. I told them what my problem was and 

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they agreed with me. I wasn't mad at them and I didn't hate them 

Anytime you have a negative feeling toward anyone, you're living in 
an illusion. There's something seriously wrong with you. You're not 
seeing reality. Something inside of you has to change. But what do 
we generally do when we have a negative feeling? "He is to blame, 
she is to blame. She's got to change". No! The world's all right. The 
one who has to change is YOU. 

One of you told of working in an institution. During a staff meeting 
someone would inevitably say, "The food stinks around here", and 
the regular dietitian would go into orbit. She has identified with the 
food. She is saying, "Anyone who attacks the food attacks me; I feel 
threatened". But the "I " is never threatened; it's only the "me" that is 

But suppose you witness some out-and-out injustice, something that 
is obviously and objectively wrong. Would it not be a proper reaction 
to say this should not be happening? Should you somehow want to 
involve yourself in correcting a situation that's wrong? Someone's 
injuring a child and you see abuse going on. 

How about that kind of thing? I hope you did not assume that I was 
saying you shouldn't do anything. I said that if you didn't have 
negative feelings you'd be much more effective, MUCH more 
effective. Because when negative feelings come in, you go blind. "Me" 
steps into the picture, and everything gets fouled up. Where we had 
one problem on our hands before, now we have two problems. Many 
wrongly assume that not having negative feelings like anger and 
resentment and hate means that you do nothing about a situation. 

Oh no, oh no! You are not affected emotionally but you spring into 
action. You become very sensitive to things and people around you. 
What kills the sensitivity is what many people would call the 
conditioned self: when you so identify with "me" that there's too 
much of "me" in it for you to see things objectively, with detachment. 
It's very important that when you swing into action, you be able to 
see things with detachment. But negative emotions prevent that. 

What, then, would we call the kind of passion that motivates or 
activates energy into doing something about objective evils? 
Whatever it is, it is not a REACTION; it is action. 

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Some of you wonder if there is a gray area before sometiiing 
becomes an attachment, before identification sets in. Say a friend 
dies. It seems right and very human to feel some sadness about that. 
But what reaction? Self-pity? What would you be grieving about? 
Think about that. What I'm saying is going to sound terrible to you, 
but I told you, I'm coming from another world. Your reaction is 
PERSONAL loss, right? Feeling sorry for "me" or for other people your 
friend might have brought joy to. 

But that means you're feeling sorry for other people who are feeling 
sorry for themselves. If they're not feeling sorry for themselves, what 
would they be feeling sorry for? We never feel grief when we lose 
something that we have allowed to be free, that we have never 
attempted to possess. Grief is a sign that I made my happiness 
depend on this thing or person, at least to some extent. We're so 
accustomed to hear the opposite of this that what I say sounds 
inhuman, doesn't it? 


But it's what all the mystics in the past have been telling us. I'm not 
saying that "me", the conditioned-self, will not sometimes fall into its 
usual patterns. That's the way we've been conditioned. But it raises 
the question whether it is conceivable to live a life in which you would 
be so totally alone that you would depend on no one. 

We all depend on one another for all kinds of things, don't we? We 
depend on the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. 
Interdependence. That's fine! We set up society this way and we allot 
different functions to different people for the welfare of everyone, so 
that we will function better and live more effectively - at least we 
hope so. But to depend on another psychologically - to depend on 
another emotionally - what does that imply? It means to depend on 
another human being for my happiness. 

Think about that. Because if you do, the next thing you will be doing, 
whether you're aware of it or not, is DEMANDING that other people 
contribute to your happiness. Then there will be a next step - fear, 
fear of loss, fear of alienation, fear of rejection, mutual control. 
Perfect love casts out fear. Where there is love there are no 

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demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you 
make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you. If you were to 
leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself; I enjoy your company 
immensely, but I do not cling. 

I enjoy it on a non-clinging basis. What I really enjoy is not you; it's 
something that's greater than both you and me. It is something that I 
discovered, a kind of symphony, a kind of orchestra that plays one 
melody in your presence, but when you depart, the orchestra doesn't 
stop. When I meet someone else, it plays another melody, which is 
also very delightful. And when I'm alone, it continues to play. There's 
a great repertoire and it never ceases to play. 

That's what awakening is all about. That's also why we're hypnotized, 
brainwashed, asleep. It seems terrifying to ask, but can you be said 
to love me if you cling to me and will not let me go? If you will not let 
me be? Can you be said to love me if you need me psychologically or 
emotionally for your happiness? This flies in the face of the universal 
teaching of all the scriptures, of all religions, of all the mystics. 

"How is it that we missed it for so many years"? I say to myself 
repeatedly "How come I didn't see it"? When you read those radical 
things in the scriptures, you begin to wonder: Is this man crazy? But 
after a while you begin to think everybody else is crazy. "Unless you 
hate your father and mother, brothers and sisters, unless you 
renounce and give up everything you possess, you cannot be my 

You must drop it all. Not physical renunciation, you understand; 
that's easy. When your illusions drop, you're in touch with reality at 
last, and believe me, you will never again be lonely, never again. 
Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by 
contact with reality. Oh, I have so much to say about that. Contact 
with reality, dropping one's illusions, making contact with the real. 

Whatever it is, it has no name. We can only know it by dropping what 
is unreal. You can only know what aloneness is when you drop your 
clinging, when you drop your dependency. But the first step toward 
that is that you see it as desirable. If you don't see it as desirable, 
how will you get anywhere near it? 

Think of the loneliness that is yours. Would human company ever 
take it away? It will only serve as a distraction. There's an emptiness 
inside, isn't there? And when the emptiness surfaces, what do you 

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do? You run away, turn on the television, turn on the radio, read a 
bool<, search for human company, seel< entertainment, seel< 
distraction. Everybody does that. It's big business nowadays, an 
organized industry to distract us and entertain us. 


Come home to yourself. Observe yourself. That's why I said earlier 
that self-observation is such a delightful and extraordinary thing. 
After a while you don't have to make any effort, because, as illusions 
begin to crumble, you begin to know things that cannot be described. 
It's called happiness. Everything changes and you become addicted 
to awareness. 

There's the story of the disciple who went to the master and said, 
"Could you give me a word of wisdom? Could you tell me something 
that would guide me through my days"? It was the master's day of 
silence, so he picked up a pad. It said, "Awareness". When the 
disciple saw it, he said, "This is too brief. Can you expand on it a bit"? 
So the master took back the pad and wrote, "Awareness, awareness, 
awareness". The disciple said, "Yes, but what does it mean"? The 
master took back the pad and wrote, "Awareness, awareness, 
awareness means -- awareness". 

That's what it is to watch yourself. No one can show you how to do it, 
because he would be giving you a technique, he would be 
programming you. But watch yourself. When you talk to someone, 
are you aware of it or are you simply identifying with it? When you 
got angry with somebody, were you aware that you were angry or 
were you simply identifying with your anger? Later, when you had the 
time, did you study your experience and attempt to understand it? 

Where did it come from? What brought it on? I don't know of any 
other way to awareness. You only change what you understand. What 
you do not understand and are not aware of, you repress. You don't 
change. But when you understand it, it changes. I am sometimes 
asked, "Is this growing in awareness a gradual thing, or is it a 
'whammo' kind of thing"? There are some lucky people who see this 
in a flash. They just become aware. There are others who keep 
growing into it, slowly, gradually, increasingly. They begin to see 

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things. Illusions drop away, fantasies are peeled away, and they start 
to get in touch with facts. There's no general rule. 

There's a famous story about the lion who came upon a flock of 
sheep and to his amazement found a lion among the sheep. It was a 
lion who had been brought up by the sheep ever since he was a cub. 
It would bleat like a sheep and run around like a sheep. The lion went 
straight for him, and when the sheep lion stood in front of the real 
one, he trembled in every limb. And the lion said to him, "What are 
you doing among the sheep"? And the sheep-lion said, "I am a 
sheep". And the lion said, "Oh no you're not. You're coming with me". 
So he took the sheep-lion to a pool and said, "Look!" And when the 
sheep-lion looked at his reflection in the water, he let out a mighty 
roar, and in that moment he was transformed. He was never the 
same again. 

If you're lucky and the gods are gracious or if you are gifted with 
divine grace (use any theological expression you want), you might 
suddenly understand who "I" is, and you will never be the same 
again, never. Nothing will ever be able to touch you again and no one 
will ever be able to hurt you again. You will fear no one and you will 
fear nothing. Isn't that extraordinary? You'll live like a king, like a 
queen. This is what it means to live like royalty. Not rubbish like 
getting your picture in the newspapers or having a lot of money. 
That's a lot of rot. You fear no one because you're perfectly content 
to be nobody. You don't give a damn about success or failure. They 
mean nothing. Honor, disgrace, they mean nothing! If you make a 
fool of yourself, that means nothing either. 

Isn't that a wonderful state to be in! Some people arrive at this goal 
painstakingly, step by step, through months and weeks of self- 
awareness. But I'll promise you this: I have not known a single 
person who gave time to being aware who didn't see a difference in a 
matter of weeks. The quality of their life changes, so they don't have 
to take it on faith anymore. They see it; they're different. They react 
differently. In fact, they react less and act more. You see things 
you've never seen before. You're much more energetic, much more 
alive. People think that if they had no cravings, they'd be like 
deadwood. But in fact they'd lose their tension. Get rid of your fear of 
failure, your tensions about succeeding, you will be yourself. Relaxed. 
You wouldn't be driving with your brakes on. That's what would 

There's a lovely saying of Tranxu, a great Chinese sage, that I took 

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the trouble to learn by heart. It goes: "When the archer shoots for no 
particular prize, he has all his skills; when he shoots to win a brass 
buckle, he is already nervous; when he shoots for a gold prize, he 
goes blind, sees two targets, and is out of his mind. His skill has not 
changed, but the prize divides him. He cares! He thinks more of 
winning than of shooting, and the need to win drains him of power". 
Isn't that an image of what most people are? When you're living for 
nothing, you've got all your skills, you've got all your energy, you're 
relaxed, you don't care, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose. 

Now there's HUMAN living for you. That's what life is all about. That 
can only come from awareness. And in awareness you will 
understand that honor doesn't mean a thing. It's a social convention, 
that's all. That's why the mystics and the prophets didn't bother one 
bit about it. Honor or disgrace meant nothing to them. They were 
living in another world, in the world of the awakened. Success or 
failure meant nothing to them. They had the attitude: "I'm an ass, 
you're an ass, so where's the problem"? Someone once said, "The 
three most difficult things for a human being are not physical feats or 
intellectual achievements. They are, first, returning love for hate; 
second, including the excluded; third, admitting that you are wrong". 
But these are the easiest things in the world if you haven't identified 
with the "me". You can say things like "I 'm wrong! If you knew me 
better, you'd see how often I'm wrong. What would you expect from 
an ass"? 

But if I haven't identified with these aspects of "me", you can't hurt 
me. Initially, the old conditioning will kick in and you'll be depressed 
and anxious. You'll grieve, cry, and so on. "Before enlightenment, I 
used to be depressed: after enlightenment, 1 continue to be 
depressed". But there's a difference: I don't identify with it anymore. 
Do you know what a big difference that is? You step outside of 
yourself and look at that depression, and don't identify with it. You 
don't do a thing to make it go away; you are perfectly willing to go on 
with your life while it passes through you and disappears. If you don't 
know what that means, you really have something to look forward to. 
And anxiety? There it comes and you're not troubled. How strange! 
You're anxious but you're not troubled. 

Isn't that a paradox? And you're willing to let this cloud come in, 
because the more you fight it, the more power you give it. You're 
willing to observe it as it passes by. You can be happy in your 
anxiety. Isn't that crazy? You can be happy in your depression. But 
you can't have the wrong notion of happiness. Did you think 

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happiness was excitement or thrills? That's what causes the 
depression. Didn't anyone tell you that? You're thrilled, all right, but 
you're just preparing the way for your next depression. You're thrilled 
but you pick up the anxiety behind that: How can I make it last? 
That's not happiness, that's addiction. 

I wonder how many non-addicts there are reading this book? If 
you're anything like the average group, there are few, very few. 
Don't look down your nose at the alcoholics and the drug addicts: 
maybe you're just as addicted as they are. The first time I got a 
glimpse of this new world, it was terrifying. I understood what it 
meant to be alone, with nowhere to rest your head, to leave 
everyone free and be free yourself, to be special to no one and love 
everyone- because love does that. It shines on good and bad alike; it 
makes rain fall on saints and sinners alike. 

Is it possible for the rose to say, "I will give my fragrance to the good 
people who smell me, but I will withhold it from the bad"? Or is it 
possible for the lamp to say, "I will give my light to the good people 
in this room, but I will withhold it from the evil people"? Or can a tree 
say, "I 'II give my shade to the good people who rest under me, but I 
will withhold it from the bad"? These are images of what love is 

It's been there all along, staring us in the face in the scriptures, 
though we never cared to see it because we were so drowned in what 
our culture calls love with its love songs and poems -- that isn't love 
at all, that's the opposite of love. That's desire and control and 
possessiveness. That's manipulation, and fear, and anxiety -- that's 
not love. We were told that happiness is a smooth complexion, a 
holiday resort. It isn't these things, but we have subtle ways of 
making our happiness depend on other things, both within us and 
outside us. 

We say, "I refuse to be happy until my neurosis goes". I have good 
news for you: You can be happy right now, WITH the neurosis. You 
want even better news? There's only one reason why you're not 
experiencing what in India we call ANAND -- bliss, bliss. There's only 
one reason why you're not experiencing bliss at this present moment, 
and it's because you're thinking or focusing on what you don't have. 
Otherwise you would be experiencing bliss. You're focusing on what 
you don't have. But, right now you have everything you need to be in 
bliss. Jesus was talking horse sense to lay people, to starving people, 
to poor people. He was telling them good news: It's yours for the 

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taking. But who listens? No one's interested, tiiey'd rather be asleep. 



Some say that there are only two things in the world: God and Fear. 
Love and Fear are the only two things. There's only one evil in the 
world, Fear. There's only one good in the world. Love. It's sometimes 
called by other names. It's sometimes called happiness or freedom or 
peace or joy or God or whatever. But the label doesn't really matter. 
And there's not a single evil in the world that you cannot trace to 
fear. Not one. 

Ignorance and fear, ignorance caused by fear, that's where all the 
evil comes from, that's where your violence comes from. The person 
who is truly nonviolent, who is incapable of violence, is the person 
who is fearless. It's only when you're afraid that you become angry. 
Think of the last time you were angry. Go ahead. Think of the last 
time you were angry and search for the fear behind it. 

What were you afraid of losing? What were you afraid would be taken 
from you? That's where the anger comes from. Think of an angry 
person, maybe someone you're afraid of. Can you see how frightened 
he or she is? He's really frightened, he really is. She's really 
frightened or she wouldn't be angry. Ultimately, there are only two 
things, love and fear. 

In this retreat I'd rather leave it like this, unstructured and moving 
from one thing to another and returning to themes again and again, 
because that's the way to really grasp what I 'm saying. If it doesn't 
hit you the first time, it might the second time, and what doesn't hit 
one person might hit another. I 've got different themes, but they are 
all about the same thing. Call it awareness, call it love, call it 
spirituality or freedom or awakening or whatever. It really is the 
same thing. 

Next Section 03 
Pick any section from Here 

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NewTriLite List 

Cosmic Cookies List 

Cosmic Coolcies 


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Wisdom from Anthony de 


... Articles ... Essays ... Stories ... Sayings ... 




To watch everything inside of you and outside, and when there is 
something happening to you, to see it as if it were happening to 
someone else, with no comment, no judgment, no attitude, no 
interference, no attempt to change, only to understand. As you do 
this, you'll begin to realize that increasingly you are disidentifying 
from "me". 

St. Teresa of Avila says that toward the end of her life God gave her 
an extraordinary grace. She doesn't use this modern expression, of 
course, but what it really boils down to is disidentifying from her self. 
If someone else has cancer and I don't know the person, I 'm not all 
that affected. If I had love and sensitivity, maybe I'd help, but I'm 
not emotionally affected. If YOU have an examination to take, I'm not 
all that affected. 

I can be quite philosophical about it and say, "Well, the more you 
worry about it, the worse it'll get. Why not just take a good break 
instead of studying"? But when it's my turn to have an examination, 
well, that's something else, isn't it? The reason is that I've identified 
with "me" - with my family, my country, my possessions, my body, 
me. How would it be if God gave me grace not to call these things 
mine? I 'd be detached; I 'd be disidentified. That's what it means to 
lose the self, to deny the self, to die to self. 

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Somebody came up to me once during a conference and asked, 
"What about 'Our Lady of Fatima'"? What do you think of her? When I 
am asked questions like that, I am reminded of the story of the time 
they were taking the statue of Our Lady of Fatima on an airplane to a 
pilgrimage for worship, and as they were flying over the South of 
France the plane began to wobble and to shake and it looked like it 
was going to come apart. And the miraculous statue cried out, "Our 
Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!" And all was well. Wasn't it wonderful, 
one "Our Lady" helping another "Our Lady"? 

There was also a group of a thousand people who went on a 
pilgrimage to Mexico City to venerate the shrine of Our Lady of 
Guadalupe and sat down before the statue in protest because the 
Bishop of the Diocese had declared "Our Lady of Lourdes" patroness 
of the diocese! They were sure that Our Lady of Guadalupe felt this 
very much, so they were doing the protest in REPARATION for the 
offense. That's the trouble with religion, if you don't watch out. 

When I speak to Hindus, I tell them, "Your priests are not going to be 
happy to hear this" (notice how prudent I am this morning), "but God 
would be much happier, according to Jesus Christ, if you were 
transformed than if you worshipped. He would be much more pleased 
by your loving than by your adoration". And when I talk to Moslems, I 
say, "Your Ayatollah and your mullahs are not going to be happy to 
hear this, but God is going to be much more pleased by your being 
transformed into a loving person than by saying, "Lord, Lord". It's 
infinitely more important that you be waking up. That's spirituality, 
that's everything. 

If you have that, you have God. Then you worship "in spirit and in 
truth". When you become love, when you are transformed into love. 
The danger of what religion can do is very nicely brought out in a 
story told by Cardinal Martini, the Archbishop of Milan. The story has 
to do with an Italian couple that's getting married. They have an 
arrangement with the parish priest to have a little reception in the 
parish courtyard outside the church. But it rained, and they couldn't 

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have the reception, so they said to the priest, "Would it be all right if 
we had the celebration in the church"? 

Now Father wasn't one bit happy about having a reception in the 
church, but they said, "We will eat a little cake, sing a little song, 
drink a little wine, and then go home". So Father was persuaded. But 
being good life-loving Italians they drank a little wine, sang a little 
song, then drank a little more wine, and sang some more songs, and 
within a half hour there was a great celebration going on in the 
church. And everybody was having a great time, lots of fun and frolic. 
But Father was all tense, pacing up and down in the sacristy, all 
upset about the noise they were making. The assistant pastor comes 
in and says, "I see you are quite tense". 

"Of course, I 'm tense. Listen to all the noise they are making, and in 

the House of God!, for heaven's sake!" 

"Well, Father, they really had no place to go". 

"I know that! But do they have to make all that racket"? 

"Well, we mustn't forget, must we. Father, that Jesus himself was 

once present at a wedding!" 

Father says, "I know Jesus Christ was present at a wedding banquet, 

YOU don't have to tell me J esus Christ was present at a wedding 

banquet! But they didn't have the Blessed Sacrament there!!!" 

You know there are times like that when the Blessed Sacrament 
becomes more important than Jesus Christ. When worship becomes 
more important than love, when the Church becomes more important 
than life. When God becomes more important than the neighbor. And 
so it goes on. That's the danger. To my mind this is what J esus was 
evidently calling us to -- first things first! The human being is much 
more important than the Sabbath.. Doing what I tell you, namely, 
becoming what I am indicating to you, is much more important than 
Lord, Lord. But your mullah is not going to be happy to hear that, I 
assure you. 

Your priests are not going to be happy to hear that. Not generally. So 
that's what we have been talking about. Spirituality. Waking up. And 
as I told you, it is extremely important if you want to wake up to go 
in for what I call "self observation". Be aware of what you're saying, 
be aware of what you're doing, be aware of what you're thinking, be 
aware of how you're acting. Be aware of where you're coming from, 
what your motives are. The unaware life is not worth living. 

The unaware life is a mechanical life. It's not human, it's 

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programmed, conditioned. We migint as well be a stone, a block of 
wood. In the country where I come from, you have hundreds of 
thousands of people living in little hovels, in extreme poverty, who 
just manage to survive, working all day long, hard manual work, 
sleep and then wake up in the morning, eat something, and start all 
over again. And you sit back and think, "What a life". "Is that all that 
life holds in store for them"? And then you're suddenly jolted into the 
realization that 99.999% of people here are not much better. You can 
go to the movies, drive around in a car, you can go for a cruise. Do 
you think you are much better off than they are? You are just as dead 
as they are. J ust as much a machine as they are - a slightly bigger 
one, but a machine nevertheless. That's sad. It's sad to think that 
people go through life like this. 

People go through life with fixed ideas; they never change. They're 
just not aware of what's going on. They might as well be a block of 
wood, or a rock, a talking, walking, thinking machine. That's not 
human. They are puppets, jerked around by all kinds of things. Press 
a button and you get a reaction. You can almost predict how this 
person is going to react. If I study a person, I can tell you just how 
he or she is going to react. With my therapy group, sometimes I 
write on a piece of paper that so-and-so is going to start the session 
and so-and-so will reply. Do you think that's bad? Well, don't listen to 
people who say to you, "Forget yourself! Go out in love to others". 
Don't listen to them! They're all wrong. The worst thing you can do is 
forget yourself when you go out to others in the so called helping 

This was brought home to me very forcibly many years ago when I 
did my studies in psychology in Chicago. We had a course in 
counseling for priests. It was open only to priests who were actually 
engaged in counseling and who agreed to bring a taped session to 
class. There must have been about twenty of us. When it was my 
turn, I brought a cassette with an interview I had had with a young 
woman. The instructor put it in a recorder and we all began to listen 
to it. After five minutes, as was his custom, the instructor stopped 
the tape and asked, "Any comments"? Someone said to me, "Why did 
you ask her that question"? I said, "I'm not aware that I asked her a 

As a matter of fact, I 'm quite sure I did not ask any questions". He 
said, "You did". I was quite sure because at that time I was 
consciously following the method of Carl Rogers, which is person- 
oriented and non directive. You don't ask questions and you don't 

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interrupt or give advice. So I was very aware that I mustn't asl< 
questions. Anyway, there was a dispute between us, so the instructor 
said, "Why don't we play the tape again"? So we played it again and 
there, to my horror, was a whopping big question, as tall as the 
Empire State Building, a huge question. The interesting thing to me 
was that I had heard that question three times, the first time, 
presumably, when I asked it, the second time when I listened to the 
tape in my room (because I wanted to take a good tape to class), 
and the third time when I heard it in the classroom. But it hadn't 
registered! I wasn't aware. 

That happens frequently in my therapy sessions or in my spiritual 
direction. We tape-record the interview, and when the client listens to 
it, he or she says, "You know, I didn't really hear what you said 
during the interview. I only heard what you said when I listened to 
the tape". More interestingly, I didn't hear what I said during the 
interview. It's shocking to discover that I 'm saying things in a therapy 
session that I 'm not aware of. The full import of them only dawns on 
me later. Do you call that human? "Forget yourself and go out to 
others", you say! Anyhow, after we listened to the whole tape there 
in Chicago, the instructor said, "Are there any comments"? One of the 
priests, a fifty year old man to whom I had taken a liking, said to me, 
"Tony, I'd like to ask you a personal question. Would that be all 
right"? I said, "Yes, go ahead. If I don't want to answer it, I won't". 
He said, "Is this woman in the interview pretty"? 

You know, honest to goodness, I was at a stage of my development 
(or undevelopment) where I didn't notice if someone was good- 
looking or not. It didn't matter to me. She was a sheep of Christ's 
flock; I was a pastor. I dispensed help. Isn't that great! It was the 
way we were trained. So I said to him, "What's that got to do with 
it"? He said, "Because you don't like her, do you"? I said, "What?!" 

It hadn't ever struck me that I liked or disliked individuals. Like most 
people, I had an occasional dislike that would register in 
consciousness, but my attitude was mostly neutral. I asked, "What 
makes you say that"? He said, "The tape". We went through the tape 
again, and he said, "Listen to your voice. Notice how sweet it has 
become. You're irritated, aren't you"? I was, and I was only becoming 
aware of it right there. And what was I saying to her non-directively? 
I was saying, "Don't come back". But I wasn't aware of that. My 
priest friend said, "She's a woman. She will have picked this up. 
When are you supposed to meet her next"? I said, "Next 
Wednesday". He said, "My guess is she won't come back". She didn't. 

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I waited one week but she didn't come. I waited another weel< and 
she didn't come. 

Then I called her. I broke one of my rules: Don't be the rescuer. I 
called her and said to her, "Remember that tape you allowed me to 
make for the class? It was a great help because the class pointed out 
all kinds of things to me" (I didn't tell her what!) "that would make 
the session somewhat more effective. So if you care to come back, 
that would make it more effective". She said, "All right, I'll come 
back". She did. The dislike was still there. It hadn't gone away, but it 
wasn't getting in the way. What you are aware of you are in control 
of; what you are not aware of is in control of you. You are always a 
slave to what you're not aware of. When you're aware of it, you're 
free from it. It's there, but you're not affected by it. You're not 
controlled by it; you're not enslaved by it. That's the difference. 

Awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness. What they trained us 
to do in that course was to become participant observers. To put it 
somewhat graphically, I 'd be talking to you and at the same time I 'd 
be out there watching you and watching me. When I 'm listening to 
you, it's infinitely more important for me to listen to me than to listen 
to you. Of course, it's important to listen to you, but it's more 
important that I listen to me. Otherwise I won't be hearing you. Or I'll 
be distorting everything you say. I'll be coming at you from my own 
conditioning. I 'II be reacting to you in all kinds of ways from my 
insecurities, from my need to manipulate you, from my desire to 
succeed, from irritations and feelings that I might not be aware of. So 
it's frightfully important that I listen to me when I 'm listening to you. 
That's what they were training us to do, obtaining awareness. 

You don't always have to imagine yourself hovering somewhere in the 
air. J ust to get a rough idea of what I 'm talking about, imagine a 
good driver, driving a car, who's concentrating on what you're saying. 
In fact, he may even be having an argument with you, but he's 
perfectly aware of the road signals. The moment anything untoward 
happens, the moment there's any sound, or noise, or bump, he'll 
hear it at once. He'll say, "Are you sure you closed that door back 
there"? How did he do that? He was aware, he was alert. The focus of 
his attention was on the conversation, or argument, but his 
awareness was more diffused. He was taking in all kinds of things. 

What I'm advocating here is not concentration. That's not important. 
Many meditative techniques inculcate concentration, but I'm leery of 
that. They involve violence and frequently they involve further 

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programming and conditioning. Winat I would advocate is awareness, 
which is not the same as concentration at all. Concentration is a 
spotlight. You can be distracted from that, but when you're practicing 
awareness, you're never distracted. Awareness is a floodlight. You're 
open to anything that comes within the scope of your consciousness. 
When awareness is turned on, there's never any distraction, because 
you're always aware of whatever happens to be. 

Say I 'm looking at those trees and I 'm worrying. Am I distracted? I 
am distracted only if I mean to concentrate on the trees. But if I'm 
aware that I 'm worried, too, that isn't a distraction at all. J ust be 
aware of where your attention goes. When anything goes awry or 
anything untoward happens, you'll be alerted at once. Something's 
going wrong! The moment any negative feeling comes into 
consciousness, you'll be alerted. You're like the driver of the car. 

I told you that St. Teresa of Avila said God gave her the grace of 
disidentifying herself with herself. You hear children talk that way. A 
two-year-old says, "Tommy had his breakfast this morning". He 
doesn't say "I ", although he is Tommy. He says "Tommy" - in the 
third person. Mystics feel that way. They have disidentified from 
themselves and they are at peace. This was the grace St. Teresa was 
talking about. This is the "I " that the mystic masters of the East are 
constantly urging people to discover. And those of the West, too! And 
you can count Meister Eckhart among them. They are urging people 
to discover the "I ".. 


The important thing is not to know who "I " is or what "I " is. You'll 
never succeed. There are no words for it. The important thing is to 
drop the labels. As the Japanese Zen masters say, "Don't seek the 
truth; just drop your opinions". Drop your theories; don't seek the 
truth. Truth isn't something you search for. If you stop being 
opinionated, you would know. Something similar happens here. If you 
dropped your labels, you would know. What do I mean by labels? 
Every label you can conceive of except perhaps that of human being. 

I am a human being. Fair enough; doesn't say very much. But when 
you say, "I am successful", that's crazy. Success is not part of the 

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"I". Success is something tinat comes and goes; it could be inere 
today and gone tomorrow. Tiiat's not "I". When you said, "I was a 
success", you were in error; you were plunged into darkness. You 
identified yourself with success. The same thing when you said, "I am 
a failure, a lawyer, a businessman". You know what's going to 
happen to you if you identify yourself with these things. 

You're going to cling to them, you're going to be worried that they 
may fall apart, and that's where your suffering comes in. That is what 
I meant earlier when I said to you, "If you're suffering, you're 
asleep". Do you want a sign that you're asleep? Here it is: You're 
suffering. Suffering is a sign that you're out of touch with the truth. 

Suffering is given to you that you might open your eyes to the truth, 
that you might understand that there's falsehood somewhere, just as 
physical pain is given to you so you will understand that there is 
disease or illness somewhere. Suffering points out that there is 
falsehood somewhere. Suffering occurs when you clash with reality. 
When your illusions clash with reality, when your falsehoods clash 
with truth, then you have suffering. Otherwise there is no suffering. 


What I'm about to say will sound a bit pompous, but it's true. What is 
coming could be the most important minutes in your lives. If you 
could grasp this, you'd hit upon the secret of awakening. You would 
be happy forever. You would never be unhappy again. Nothing would 
have the power to hurt you again. I mean that, nothing. It's like 
when you throw black paint in the air, the air remains 
uncontaminated. You never color the air black. No matter what 
happens to you, you remain uncontaminated. You remain at peace. 
There are human beings who have attained this, what I call being 
human. Not this nonsense of being a puppet, jerked about this way 
and that way, letting events or other people tell you how to feel. So 
you proceed to feel it and you call it being vulnerable. Ha! I call it 
being a puppet. So you want to be a puppet? Press a button and 
you're down; do you like that? But if you refuse to identify with any 
of those labels, most of your worries cease. 

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Later we'll talk about fear of disease and death, but ordinarily you're 
worried about what's going to happen to your career. A small-time 
businessman, fifty-five years old, is sipping beer at a bar somewhere 
and he's saying, "Well, look at my classmates, they've really made 
it". The idiot! What does he mean, "They made it"? They've got their 
names in the newspaper. Do you call that making it? One is president 
of the corporation; the other has become the Chief J ustice; somebody 
else has become this or that. Monkeys, all of them. 

Who determines what it means to be a success? This stupid society! 
The main preoccupation of society is to keep society sick! And the 
sooner you realize that, the better. Sick, every one of them. They are 
loony, they're crazy. You became president of the lunatic asylum and 
you're proud of it even though it means nothing. Being president of a 
corporation has nothing to do with being a success in life. Having a 
lot of money has nothing to do with being a success in life. You're a 
success in life when you wake up! Then you don't have to apologize 
to anyone, you don't have to explain anything to anyone, you don't 
give a damn what anybody thinks about you or what anybody says 
about you. You have no worries; you're happy. That's what I call 
being a success. 

Having a good job or being famous or having a great reputation has 
absolutely nothing to do with happiness or success. Nothing! It is 
totally irrelevant. All he's really worried about is what his children will 
think about him, what the neighbors will think about him, what his 
wife will think about him. He should have become famous. Our 
society and culture drill that into our heads day and night. People 
who made it! Made what?! Made asses of themselves. Because they 
drained all their energy getting something that was worthless. 
They're frightened and confused, they are puppets like the rest. Look 
at them strutting across the stage. Look how upset they get if they 
have a stain on their shirt. Do you call that a success? 

Look at how frightened they are at the prospect they might not be 
reelected. Do you call that a success? They are controlled, so 
manipulated. They are unhappy people, they are miserable people. 
They don't enjoy life. They are constantly tense and anxious. Do you 
call that human? And do you know why that happens? Only one 
reason: They identified with some label. They identified the "I" with 
their money or their job or their profession. That was their error. 

Did you hear about the lawyer who was presented with a plumber's 
bill? He said to the plumber, "Hey, you're charging me two hundred 

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dollars an hour. I don't make that kind of money as a lawyer". The 
plumber said, "I didn't make that kind of money when I was a lawyer 
either!" You could be a plumber or a lawyer or a business man or a 
priest, but that does not affect the essential "I ". It doesn't affect you. 
If I change my profession tomorrow, it's just like changing my 
clothes. I am untouched. Are you your clothes? Are you your name? 
Are you your profession? Stop identifying with them. They come and 

When you really understand this, no criticism can affect you. No 
flattery or praise can affect you either. When someone says, "You're 
a great guy", what is he talking about? He's talking about "me", he's 
not talking about "I ". "I " is neither great nor small. "I " is neither 
successful nor a failure. It is none of these labels. These things come 
and go. These things depend on the criteria society establishes. 
These things depend on your conditioning. These things depend on 
the mood of the person who happens to be talking to you right now. 
It has nothing to do with "I". "I" is none of these labels. "Me" is 
generally selfish, foolish, childish - a great big ass. So when you say, 
"You're an ass", I've known it for years! The conditioned self - what 
did you expect? I've known it for years. Why do you identify with 
him? Silly! That isn't "I", that's "me". 

Do you want to be happy? Uninterrupted happiness is uncaused. True 
happiness is uncaused. You cannot make me happy. You are not my 
happiness. You say to the awakened person, "Why are you happy"? 
and the awakened person replies, "Why not"? Happiness is our 
natural state. Happiness is the natural state of little children, to 
whom the kingdom belongs until they have been polluted and 
contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture. To acquire 
happiness you don't have to do anything, because happiness cannot 
be acquired. Does anybody know why? 

Because we have it already. How can you acquire what you already 
have? Then why don't you experience it? Because you've got to drop 
something. You've got to drop illusions. You don't have to add 
anything in order to be happy; you've got to drop something. Life is 
easy, life is delightful. It's only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, 
your greed, your cravings. Do you know where these things come 
from? From having identified with all kinds of labels! 

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The first thing you need to do is get in touch with negative feelings 
that you're not even aware of. Lots of people have negative feelings 
they're not aware of. Lots of people are depressed and they're not 
aware they are depressed. It's only when they make contact with joy 
that they understand how depressed they were. You can't deal with a 
cancer that you haven't detected. You can't get rid of boll weevils on 
your farm if you're not aware of their existence. The first thing you 
need is awareness of your negative feelings. What negative feelings? 
Gloominess, for instance. You're feeling gloomy and moody. You feel 
self-hatred or guilt. You feel that life is pointless, that it makes no 
sense; you've got hurt feelings, you're feeling nervous and tense. Get 
in touch with those feelings first. 

The second step (this is a four-step program) is to understand that 
the feeling is in you, not in reality. That's such a self-evident thing, 
but do you think people know it? They don't, believe me. They've got 
Ph.D.s and are presidents of universities, but they haven't understood 
this. They didn't teach me how to live at school. They taught me 
everything else. As one man said, "I got a pretty good education. It 
took me years to get over it". That's what spirituality is all about, you 
know: unlearning. Unlearning all the rubbish they taught you. 

Negative feelings are in you, not in reality. So stop trying to change 
reality. That's crazy! Stop trying to change the other person. We 
spend all our time and energy trying to change external 
circumstances, trying to change our spouses, our bosses, our friends, 
our enemies, and everybody else. We don't have to change anything. 
Negative feelings are in you. No person on earth has the power to 
make you unhappy. There is no event on earth that has the power to 
disturb you or hurt you. No event, condition, situation, or person. 
Nobody told you this; they told you the opposite. That's why you're in 
the mess that you're in right now. That is why you're asleep. They 
never told you this. But it's self-evident. 

Let's suppose that rain washes out a picnic. Who is feeling negative? 
The rain? Or YOU? What's causing the negative feeling? The rain or 
your reaction? When you bump your knee against a table, the table's 
fine. It's busy being what it was made to Be - a table. The pain is in 
your knee, not in the table. The mystics keep trying to tell us that 
reality is all right. Reality is not problematic. Problems exist only in 

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the human mind. We might add: in the stupid, sleeping human mind. 
Reality is not problematic. Take away human beings from this planet 
and life would go on, nature would go on in all its loveliness and 
violence. Where would the problem be? No problem. You created the 
problem. You are the problem. You identified with "me" and that is 
the problem. The feeling is in you, not in reality. 

The third step: Never identify with that feeling. It has nothing to do 
with the "I ". Don't define your essential self in terms of that feeling. 
Don't say, "I am depressed". If you want to say, "It is depressed", 
that's all right. If you want to say depression is there, that's fine; if 
you want to say gloominess is there, that's fine. But not: I am 
gloomy. You're defining yourself in terms of the feeling. That's your 
illusion; that's your mistake. There is a depression there right now, 
there are hurt feelings there right now, but let it be, leave it alone. It 
will pass. Everything passes, everything. Your depressions and your 
thrills have nothing to do with happiness. Those are the swings of the 
pendulum. If you seek kicks or thrills, get ready for depression. Do 
you want your drug? Get ready for the hangover. One end of the 
pendulum swings to the other. 

This has nothing to do with "I"; it has nothing to do with happiness. 
It is the "me". If you remember this, if you say it to yourself a 
thousand times, if you try these three steps a thousand times, you 
will get it. You might not need to do it even three times. I don't 
know; there's no rule for it. But do it a thousand times and you'll 
make the biggest discovery in your life. To hell with those gold mines 
in Alaska. What are you going to do with that gold? If you're not 
happy, you can't live. So you found gold. What does that matter? 
You're a king; you're a princess. You're free; you don't care anymore 
about being accepted or rejected, that makes no difference. 
Psychologists tell us how important it is to get a sense of belonging. 
Baloney! Why do you want to belong to anybody? It doesn't matter 

A friend of mine told me that there's an African tribe where capital 
punishment consists of being ostracized. If you were kicked out of 
New York, or wherever you're residing, you wouldn't die. How is it 
that the African tribesman died? Because he partakes of the common 
stupidity of humanity. He thinks he will not be able to live if he does 
not belong. It's very different from most people, or is it? He's 
convinced he needs to belong. But you don't need to belong to 
anybody or anything or any group. You don't even need to be in love. 
Who told you you do? What you need is to be free. What you need is 

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to love. That's it; that's your nature. But what you're really telling me 
is that you want to be desired. You want to be applauded, to be 
attractive, to have all the little monkeys running after you. You're 
wasting your life. WAKE UP! You don't need this. You can be blissfully 
happy without it. 

Your society is not going to be happy to hear this, because you 
become terrifying when you open your eyes and understand this. 
How do you control a person like this? He doesn't need you; he's not 
threatened by your criticism; he doesn't care what you think of him 
or what you say about him. He's cut all those strings; he's not a 
puppet any longer. It's terrifying. "So we've got to get rid of him. He 
tells the truth; he has become fearless; he has stopped being 
human." HUMAN! Behold! A human being at last! He broke out of his 
slavery, broke out of their prison. 

No event justifies a negative feeling. There is no situation in the 
world that justifies a negative feeling. That's what all our mystics 
have been crying themselves hoarse to tell us. But nobody listens. 
The negative feeling is in you. In the Bhagavad-Gita, the sacred book 
of the Hindus, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, "Plunge into the heat of 
battle and keep your heart at the lotus feet of the Lord". A marvelous 

You don't have to do anything to acquire happiness. The great 
Meister Eckhart said very beautifully, "God is not attained by a 
process of addition to anything in the soul, but by a process of 
subtraction". You don't do anything to be free, you drop something. 
Then you're free. 1 1 reminds me of the I rish prisoner who dug a 
tunnel under the prison wall and managed to escape. He comes out 
right in the middle of a school playground where little children are 
playing. Of course, when he emerges from the tunnel he can't 
restrain himself anymore and begins to jump up and down, crying, 
"I'm free, I'm free, I'm free! A little girl there looks at him scornfully 
and says, "That's nothing. I'm four". 

The fourth step: How do you change things? How do you change 
yourselves? There are many things you must understand here, or 
rather, just one thing that can be expressed in many ways. Imagine a 
patient who goes to a doctor and tells him what he is suffering from. 
The doctor says, "Very well, I've understood your symptoms. Do you 
know what I will do? I will prescribe a medicine for your neighbor!" 
The patient replies, "Thank you very much. Doctor, that makes me 
feel much better". Isn't that absurd? But that's what we all do. The 

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person who is asleep always thinks he'll feel better if somebody else 
changes. You're suffering because you are asleep, but you're 
thinking, "How wonderful life would be if somebody else would 
change; how wonderful life would be if my neighbor changed, my wife 
changed, my boss changed". 

We always want someone else to change so that we will feel good. 
But has it ever struck you that even if your wife changes or your 
husband changes, what does that do to you? You're just as 
vulnerable as before; you're just as idiotic as before; you're just as 
asleep as before. You are the one who needs to change, who needs 
to take medicine. You keep insisting, "I feel good because the world 
is right". Wrong! The world is right because I feel good. That's what 
all the mystics are saying. 



When you awaken, when you understand, when you see, the world 
becomes right. We're always bothered by the problem of evil. There's 
a powerful story about a little boy walking along the bank of a river. 
He sees a crocodile who is trapped in a net. The crocodile says, 
"Would you have pity on me and release me? I may look ugly, but it 
isn't my fault, you know. I was made this way. But whatever my 
external appearance, I have a mother's heart. I came this morning in 
search of food for my young ones and got caught in this trap!" So the 
boy says, "Ah, if I were to help you out of that trap, you'd grab me 
and kill me". 

The crocodile asks, "Do you think I would do that to my benefactor 
and liberator"? So the boy is persuaded to take the net off and the 
crocodile grabs him. As he is being forced between the jaws of the 
crocodile, he says, "So this is what I get for my good actions". And 
the crocodile says, "Well, don't take it personally, son, this is the way 
the world is, this is the law of life". The boy disputes this, so the 
crocodile says, "Do you want to ask someone if it isn't so"? The boy 
sees a bird sitting on a branch and says, "Bird, is what the crocodile 
says right"? The bird says, "The crocodile is right. Look at me. I was 
coming home one day with food for my fledglings. 

Imagine my horror to see a snake crawling up the tree, making 

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Straight for my nest. I was totally helpless. It kept devouring my 
young ones, one after the other. I kept screaming and shouting, but 
it was useless. The crocodile is right, this is the law of life, this is the 
way the world is". "See", says the crocodile. But the boy says, "Let 
me ask someone else". So the crocodile says, "Well, all right, go 
ahead". There was an old donkey passing by on the bank of the river. 
"Donkey", says the boy, "this is what the crocodile says. Is the 
crocodile right"? The donkey says, "The crocodile is quite right. Look 
at me. I've worked and slaved for my master all my life and he barely 
gave me enough to eat. 

Now that I'm old and useless, he has turned me loose, and here I am 
wandering in the jungle, waiting for some wild beast to pounce on me 
and put an end to my life. The crocodile is right, this is the law of life, 
this is the way the world is". "See", says the crocodile. "Let's go!" The 
boy says, "Give me one more chance, one last chance. Let me ask 
one other being. Remember how good I was to you"? So the crocodile 
says, "All right, your last chance". The boy sees a rabbit passing by, 
and he says, "Rabbit, is the crocodile right"? The rabbit sits on his 
haunches and says to the crocodile, "Did you say that to that boy? 

The crocodile says, "Yes, I did". "Wait a minute", says the rabbit. 
"We've got to discuss this". "Yes", says the crocodile. But the rabbit 
says, "How can we discuss it when you've got that boy in your 
mouth? Release him; he's got to take part in the discussion, too". The 
crocodile says, "You're a clever one, you are. The moment I release 
him, he'll run away". The rabbit says, "I thought you had more sense 
than that. If he attempted to run away, one slash of your tail would 
kill him". "Fair enough", says the crocodile, and he released the boy. 
The moment the boy is released, the rabbit says, "Run!" And the boy 
runs and escapes. Then the rabbit says to the boy, "Don't you enjoy 
crocodile flesh? 

Wouldn't the people in your village like a good meal? You didn't really 
release that crocodile; most of his body is still caught in that net. 
Why don't you go to the village and bring everybody and have a 
banquet". That's exactly what the boy does. He goes to the village 
and calls all the men folk. They come with their axes and staves and 
spears and kill the crocodile. The boy's dog comes, too, and when the 
dog sees the rabbit, he gives chase, catches hold of the rabbit, and 
throttles him. The boy comes on the scene too late, and as he 
watches the rabbit die, he says, "The crocodile was right, this is the 
way the world is, this is the law of life". 

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There is no explanation you can give tiiat would explain away all the 
sufferings and evil and torture and destruction and hunger in the 
world! You'll never explain it. You can try gamely with your formulas, 
religious and otherwise, but you'll never explain it. Because life is a 
mystery, which means your thinking mind cannot make sense out of 
it. For that you've got to wake up and then you'll suddenly realize 
that reality is not problematic, you are the problem. 


The scriptures are always hinting of that, but you'll never understand 
a word of what the scriptures are saying until you wake up. Sleeping 
people read the scriptures and crucify the Messiah on the basis of 
them. You've got to wake up to make sense out of the scriptures. 
When you do wake up, they make sense. So does reality. But you'll 
never be able to put it into words. You'd rather do something? But 
even there we've got to make sure that you're not swinging into 
action simply to get rid of your negative feelings. Many people swing 
into action only to make things worse. 

They're not coming from love, they're coming from negative feelings. 
They're coming from guilt, anger, hate; from a sense of injustice or 
whatever. You've got to make sure of your "being" before you swing 
into action. You have to make sure of who you are before you act. 
Unfortunately, when sleeping people swing into action, they simply 
substitute one cruelty for another, one injustice for another. And so it 
goes. Meister Eckhart says, "It is not by your actions that you will be 
saved" (or awakened; call it by any word you want), "but by your 
being. It is not by what you do, but by what you are that you will be 
judged". What good is it to you to feed the hungry, give the thirsty to 
drink, or visit prisoners in jail? 

Remember that sentence from Paul: "If I give my body to be burned 
and all my goods to feed the poor and have not love . . ". It's not 
your actions, it's your being that counts. Then you might swing into 
action. You might or might not. You can't decide that until you're 
awake. Unfortunately, all the emphasis is concentrated on changing 
the world and very little emphasis is given to waking up. When you 
wake up, you will know what to do or what not to do. Some mystics 

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are very strange, you know. Like Jesus, who said something like "I 
wasn't sent to those people; I limit myself to what I am supposed to 
do right now. Later, maybe". Some mystics go silent. Mysteriously, 
some of them sing songs. Some of them are into service. We're never 
sure. They're a law unto themselves; they know exactly what is to be 
done. "Plunge into the heat of battle and keep your heart at the lotus 
feet of the Lord", as I said to you earlier. 

Imagine that you're unwell and in a foul mood, and they're taking 
you through some lovely countryside. The landscape is beautiful but 
you're not in the mood to see anything. A few days later you pass the 
same place and you say, "Good heavens, where was I that I didn't 
notice all of this"? Everything becomes beautiful when you change. Or 
you look at the trees and the mountains through windows that are 
wet with rain from a storm, and everything looks blurred and 
shapeless. You want to go right out there and change those trees, 
change those mountains. Wait a minute, let's examine your window. 
When the storm ceases and the rain stops, and you look out the 
window, you say, "Well, how different everything looks". We see 
people and things not as they are, but as we are. That is why when 
two people look at something or someone, you get two different 
reactions. We see things and people not as they are, but as we are. 

Remember that sentence from scripture about everything turning into 
good for those who love God? When you finally awake, you don't try 
to make good things happen; they just happen. You understand 
suddenly that everything that happens to you is good. Think of some 
people you're living with whom you want to change. You find them 
moody, inconsiderate, unreliable, treacherous, or whatever. But when 
you are different, they'll be different. That's an infallible and 
miraculous cure. The day you are different, they will become 
different. And you will see them differently, too. 

Someone who seemed terrifying will now seem frightened. Someone 
who seemed rude will seem frightened. All of a sudden, no one has 
the power to hurt you anymore. No one has the power to put 
pressure on you. It's something like this: You leave a book on the 
table and I pick it up and say, "You're pressing this book on me. I 
have to pick it up or not pick it up". People are so busy accusing 
everyone else, blaming everyone else, blaming life, blaming society, 
blaming their neighbor. You'll never change that way; you'll continue 
in your nightmare, you'll never wake up. 

Put this program into action, a thousand times: (a) identify the 

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negative feelings in you; (b) understand that tiiey are in you, not in 
tine world, not in external reality; (c) do not see them as an essential 
part of "I"; these things come and go; (d) understand that when you 
change, everything changes. 


Do I do anything to change myself? I 've got a big surprise for you, 
lots of good news! You don't have to do anything. The more you do, 
the worse it gets. All you have to do is understand. Think of 
somebody you are living with or working with whom you do not like, 
who causes negative feelings to arise in you. Let's help you to 
understand what's going on. The first thing you need to understand is 
that the negative feeling is inside you. You are responsible for the 
negative feeling, not the other person. Someone else in your place 
would be perfectly calm and at ease in the presence of this person; 
they wouldn't be affected. You are. Now, understand another thing, 
that you're making a demand. 

You have an expectation of this person. Can you get in touch with 
that? Then say to this person, "I have no right to make any demands 
on you". In saying that, you will drop your expectation. "I have no 
right to make any demands on you. Oh, I 'II protect myself from the 
consequences of your actions or your moods or whatever, but you 
can go right ahead and be what you choose to be. I have no right to 
make any demands on you". 

See what happens to you when you do this. If there's a resistance to 
saying it, my, how much you're going to discover about your "me". 
Let the dictator in you come out, let the tyrant come out. You thought 
you were such a little lamb, didn't you? But I 'm a tyrant and you're a 
tyrant. A little variation on "I'm an ass, you're an ass". I'm a dictator, 
you're a dictator. I want to run your life for you; I want to tell you 
exactly how you're expected to be and how you're expected to 
behave, and you'd better behave as I have decided or I shall punish 
myself by having negative feelings. Remember what I told you, 
everybody's a lunatic. 

A woman told me her son had gotten an award at his high school. It 
was for excellence in sports and academics. She was happy for him, 

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but was almost tempted to say to him, "Don't glory in that award, 
because it's setting you up for the time when you can't perform as 
well". She was in a dilemma: how to prevent his future 
disillusionment without bursting his bubble now. Hopefully, he'll learn 
as she herself grows in wisdom. It's not a matter of anything she 
says to him. It's something that eventually she will become. Then she 
will understand. Then she will know what to say and when to say it. 
That award was a result of competition, which can be cruel if it is 
built on hatred of oneself and of others. People get a good feeling on 
the basis of somebody getting a bad feeling; you win over somebody 
else. Isn't that terrible? Taken for granted in a lunatic asylum! 

There's an American doctor who wrote about the effect of competition 
on his life. He went to medical school in Switzerland and there was a 
fairly large contingent of Americans at that school. He said some of 
the students went into shock when they realized that there were no 
grades, there were no awards, there was no dean's list, no first or 
second in the class at the school. You either passed or you didn't. He 
said, "Some of us just couldn't take it. We became almost paranoid. 
We thought there must be some kind of trick here". So some of them 
went to another school. 

Those who survived suddenly discovered a strange thing they had 
never noticed at American universities: students, brilliant ones, 
helping others to pass, sharing notes. His son goes to medical school 
in the United States and he tells him that, in the lab, people often 
tamper with the microscope so that it'll take the next student three or 
four minutes to readjust it. Competition. They have to succeed, they 
have to be perfect. And he tells a lovely little story which he says is 
factual, but it could also serve as a beautiful parable. 

There was a little town in America where people gathered in the 
evening to make music. They had a saxophonist, a drummer, and a 
violinist, mostly old people. They got together for the company and 
for the sheer joy of making music, though they didn't do it very well. 
So they were enjoying themselves, having a great time, until one day 
they decided to get a new conductor who had a lot of ambition and 
drive. The new conductor told them, "Hey, folks, we have to have a 
concert, we have to prepare a concert for the town". 

Then he gradually got rid of some people who didn't play too well, 
hired a few professional musicians, got an orchestra into shape, and 
they all got their names in the newspapers. Wasn't that wonderful? 
So they decided to move to the big city and play there: But some of 

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the old people had tears in their eyes. They said, "It was so 
wonderful in the old days when we did things badly and enjoyed 
them". So cruelty came into their lives, but nobody recognized it as 
cruelty. See how lunatic people have become! 

Some of you ask me what I meant when I said, "You go ahead and 
be yourself, that's all right, but I'll protect myself, I'll be myself". In 
other words, I won't allow you to manipulate me. I 'II live my life; I 'II 
go my own way; I 'II keep myself free to think my thoughts, to follow 
my inclinations and tastes. And I'll say no to you. If I feel I don't 
want to be in your company, it won't be because of any negative 
feelings you cause in me. Because you don't anymore. You don't have 
any more power over me. I simply might prefer other people's 
company. So when you say to me, "How about a movie tonight"? I'll 
say, "Sorry, I want to go with someone else; I enjoy his company 
more than yours". And that's all right. 

To say no to people - that's wonderful; that's part of waking up. Part 
of waking up is that you live your life as you see fit. And understand: 
That is not selfish. The selfish thing is to demand that someone else 
live their life as YOU see fit. That's selfish. It is not selfish to live your 
life as you see fit. The selfishness lies in demanding that someone 
else live their life to suit your tastes, or your pride, or your profit, or 
your pleasure. That is truly selfish. So I'll protect myself. I won't feel 
obligated to be with you; I won't feel obligated to say yes to you. If I 
find your company pleasant, then I'll enjoy it without clinging to it. 
But I no longer avoid you because of any negative feelings you create 
in me. You don't have that power anymore. 

Awakening should be a surprise. When you don't expect something to 
happen and it happens, you feel surprise. When Webster's wife 
caught him kissing the maid, she told him she was very surprised. 
Now, Webster was a stickler for using words accurately 
(understandably, since he wrote a dictionary), so he answered her, 
"No, my dear, I am surprised. You are astonished!" 

Some people make awakening a goal. They are determined to get 
there; they say, "I refuse to be happy until I'm awakened". In that 
case, it's better to be the way you are, simply to be aware of the way 
you are. Simple awareness is happiness compared with trying to 
react all the time. People react so quickly because they are not 
aware. You will come to understand that there are times when you 
will inevitably react, even in awareness. But as awareness grows, you 
react less and act more. It really doesn't matter. 

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There's a story of a disciple who told his guru that he was going to a 
far place to meditate and hopefully attain enlightenment. So he sent 
the guru a note every six months to report the progress he was 
making. The first report said, "Now I understand what it means to 
lose the self". The guru tore up the note and threw it in the 
wastepaper basket. After six months he got another report, which 
said, "Now I have attained sensitivity to all beings". He tore it up. 
Then a third report said, "Now I understand the secret of the one and 
the many". It too was torn up. 

And so it went on for years, until finally no reports came in. After a 
time the guru became curious and one day there was a traveler going 
to that far place. The guru said, "Why don't you find what happened 
to that fellow". Finally, he got a note from his disciple. It said, "What 
does it matter"? And when the guru read that, he said, "He made it! 
He made it! He finally got it! He got it!" And there is the story about a 
soldier on the battlefield who would simply drop his rifle to the 
ground, pick up a scrap of paper lying there, and look at it. Then he 
would let it flutter from his hands to the ground. And then he'd move 
somewhere else and do the same thing. So others said, "This man is 
exposing himself to death. He needs help". So they put him in the 
hospital and got the best psychiatrist to work on him. 

But it seemed to have no effect. He wandered around the wards 
picking up scraps of paper, looking at them idly, and letting them 
flutter to the ground. I n the end they said, "We've got to discharge 
this man from the army". So they call him in and give him a 
discharge certificate and he idly picks it up, looks at it, and shouts, 
"This is it? This is it". He finally got it. So begin to be aware of your 
present condition whatever that condition is. Stop being a dictator. 
Stop trying to push yourself somewhere. Then someday you will 
understand that simply by awareness you have already attained what 
you were pushing yourself toward. 


In your pursuit of awareness, don't make demands. It's more like 
obeying the traffic rules. If you don't observe traffic rules, you pay 
the penalty. Here in the United States you drive on the right side of 

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the road; in England you drive on tine left; in India you drive on the 
left. If you don't, you pay the penalty; there is no room for hurt 
feelings or demands or expectations; you just abide by the traffic 
rules. You ask where compassion comes in, where guilt comes in all 
this. You'll know when you're awake. If you're feeling guilty right 
now, how on earth can I explain it to you? How would you know what 
compassion is? You know, sometimes people want to imitate Christ, 
but when a monkey plays a saxophone, that doesn't make him a 
musician. You can't imitate Christ by imitating his external behavior. 
You've got to be Christ. 

Then you'll know exactly what to do in a particular situation, given 
your temperament, your character, and the character and 
temperament of the person you're dealing with. No one has to tell 
you. But to do that, you must be what Christ was. An external 
imitation will get you nowhere. If you think that compassion implies 
softness, there's no way I can describe compassion to you, absolutely 
no way, because compassion can be very hard. Compassion can be 
very rude, compassion can jolt you, compassion can roll up its 
sleeves and operate on you. Compassion is all kinds of things. 
Compassion can be very soft, but there's no way of knowing that. It's 
only when you become love - in other words, when you have dropped 
your illusions and attachments - that you will "know". 

As you identify less and less with the "me", you will be more at ease 
with everybody and with everything. Do you know why? Because you 
are no longer afraid of being hurt or not liked. You no longer desire to 
impress anyone. Can you imagine the relief when you don't have to 
impress anybody anymore? Oh, what a relief. Happiness at last! You 
no longer feel the need or the compulsion to explain things anymore. 
It's all right. What is there to be explained? And you don't feel the 
need or compulsion to apologize anymore. 

I'd much rather hear you say, "I've come awake", than hear you say, 
"I 'm sorry". I 'd much rather hear you say to me, "I 've come awake 
since we last met; what I did to you won't happen again", than to 
hear you say, "I 'm so sorry for what I did to you". Why would anyone 
demand an apology? You have something to explore in that. Even 
when someone supposedly was mean to you, there is no room for 
apology. Nobody was mean to you. Somebody was mean to what he 
or she thought was you, but not to you. Nobody ever rejects you; 
they're only rejecting what they think you are. But that cuts both 
ways. Nobody ever accepts you either. Until people come awake, they 
are simply accepting or rejecting their image of you. 

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They've fashioned an image of you, and they're rejecting or accepting 
that. See how devastating it is to go deeply into that. It's a bit too 
liberating. But how easy it is to love people when you understand 
this. How easy it is to love everyone when you don't identify with 
what they imagine you are or they are. It becomes easy to love 
them, to love everybody. I observe "me", but I do not think about 
"me". Because the thinking "me" does a lot of bad thinking, too. But 
when I watch "me", I am constantly aware that this is a reflection. In 
reality, you don't really think of "I " and "me". You're like a person 
driving the car; he doesn't ever want to lose consciousness of the car. 

It's all right to daydream, but not to lose consciousness of your 
surroundings. You must always be alert. It's like a mother sleeping; 
she doesn't hear the planes roaring above the house, but she hears 
the slightest whimper of her baby. She's alert, she's awake in that 
sense. One can not say anything about the awakened state; one can 
only talk about the sleeping state. One hints at the awakened state. 
One cannot say anything about happiness. Happiness cannot be 
defined. What can be defined is misery. Drop unhappiness and you 
will know. Love cannot be defined; unlove can. Drop unlove, drop 
fear, and you will know. We want to find out what the awakened 
person is like. But you'll know only when you get there. 

Am I implying, for example, that we shouldn't make demands on our 
children? What I said was: "You don't have a right to make any 
demands". Sooner or later that child is going to have to get rid of 
you, in keeping with the injunction of the Lord. And you're going to 
have no rights over him at all. In fact, he really isn't your child and 
he never was. He belongs to life, not to you. No one belongs to you. 
What you're talking about is a child's education. If you want lunch, 
you better come in between twelve and one or you don't get lunch. 
Period. That's the way things are run here. You don't come on time, 
you don't get your lunch. You're free, that true, but you must take 
the consequences. 

When I talk about not having expectations of others, or not making 
demands on them, I mean expectations and demands for my well- 
being. The President of the United States obviously has to make 
demands on people. The traffic policeman obviously has to make 
demands on people. But these are demands on their behavior - traffic 
laws, good organization, the smooth running of society. They are not 
intended to make the President or traffic policeman feel good. 

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Everyone asks me about what will happen when they finally arrive. Is 
this just curiosity? We're always asking how would this fit into that 
systenn, or whether this would make sense in that context, or what it 
will feel like when we get there, et started and you will know; it 
cannot be described. It is said widely in the East, "Those who know, 
do not say; those who say, do not know". It cannot be said; only the 
opposite can be said. 

The guru cannot give you the truth. Truth cannot be put into words, 
into a formula. That isn't the truth. That isn't reality. Reality cannot 
be put into a formula. The guru can only point out your errors. When 
you drop your errors, you will know the truth. And even then you 
cannot say. This is common teaching among the great Catholic 
mystics. The great Thomas Aquinas, toward the end of his life, 
wouldn't write and wouldn't talk; he had seen. I had thought he kept 
that famous silence of his for only a couple of months, but it went on 
for years. 

He realized he had made a fool of himself, and he said so explicitly. 
It's as if you had never tasted a green mango and you ask me, "What 
does it taste like"? I'd say to you, "Sour", but in giving you a word, 
I 've put you off the track. Try to understand that. Most people aren't 
very wise; they seize upon the word - upon the words of scripture, 
for example - and they get it all wrong. "Sour", I say, and you ask, 
"Sour like vinegar, sour like a lemon"? 

No, not sour like a lemon, but sour like a mango. "But I never tasted 
one", you say. Too bad! But you go ahead and write a doctoral thesis 
on it. You wouldn't have if you had tasted it. You really wouldn't. 
You'd have written a doctoral thesis on other things, but not on 
mangoes. And the day you finally taste a green mango, you say, 
"God, I made a fool of myself. I shouldn't have written that thesis". 
That's exactly what Thomas Aquinas did. 

A great German philosopher and theologian wrote a whole book 
specifically on the silence of St. Thomas. He simply went silent. 
Wouldn't talk. In the prologue of his Summa Theologica, which was 
the summary of all his theology, he says, "About God, we cannot say 

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what He is but rather what He is not. And so we cannot speal< about 
how He is but rather how He is not". And in his famous commentary 
on Boethius' De Sancta Trinitate he says there are three ways of 
l<nowing God (1) in the creation, (2) in God's actions through history, 
and (3) in the highest form of the l<nowledge of God - to l<now God 
tamquam ignotum (to l<now God as the unl<nown). 

The highest form of tall<ing about the Trinity is to l<now that one does 
not l<now. Now, this is not an Oriental Zen master speal<ing. This is a 
canonized saint of the Roman Catholic Church, the prince of 
theologians for centuries. To know God as unknown. In another place 
St. Thomas even says as unknowable. Reality, God, divinity, truth, 
love are unknowable; that means they cannot be comprehended by 
the thinking mind. That would set at rest so many questions people 
have because we're always living under the illusion that we know. We 
don't. We cannot know. 

What is scripture, then? It's a hint, a clue, not a description. The 
fanaticism of one sincere believer who thinks he knows causes more 
evil than the united efforts of two hundred rogues. It's terrifying to 
see what sincere believers will do because they think they know. 
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a world where everybody said, 
"We don't know"? One big barrier dropped. Wouldn't that be 

A man born blind comes to me and asks, "What is this thing called 
green"? How does one describe the color green to someone who was 
born blind? One uses analogies. So I say, "The color green is 
something like soft music". "Oh", he says, "like soft music". "Yes", I 
say, "soothing and soft music". So a second blind man comes to me 
and asks, "What is the color green"? I tell him it's something like soft 
satin, very soft and soothing to the touch. So the next day I notice 
that the two blind men are bashing each other over the head with 

One is saying, "It's soft like music"; the other is saying, "It's soft like 
satin". And on it goes. Neither of them knows what they're talking 
about, because if they did, they'd shut up. It's as bad as that. It's 
even worse, because one day, say, you give sight to this blind man, 
and he's sitting there in the garden and he's looking all around him, 
and you say to him, "Well, now you know what the color green is". 
And he answers, "That's true. I heard some of it this morning!" 

The fact is that you're surrounded by God and you don't see God, 

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because you "know" about God. The final barrier to the vision of God 
is your God concept. You miss God because you thinl< you l<now. 
That's the terrible thing about religion. That's what the gospels were 
saying, that religious people "knew", so they got rid of Jesus. The 
highest knowledge of God is to know God as unknowable. There is far 
too much God talk; the world is sick of it. 

There is too little awareness, too little love, too little happiness, but 
let's not use those words either. There's too little dropping of 
illusions, dropping of errors, dropping of attachments and cruelty, too 
little awareness. That's what the world is suffering from, not from a 
lack of religion. Religion is supposed to be about a lack of awareness, 
of waking up. Look what we've degenerated into. 

Come to my country and see them killing one another over religion. 
You'll find it everywhere. "The one who knows, does not say; the one 
who says, does not know". All revelations, however divine, are never 
any more than a finger pointing to the moon. As we say in the East, 
"When the sage points to the moon, all the idiot sees is the finger". 
Jean Guiton, a very pious and orthodox French writer, adds a 
terrifying comment "We often use the finger to gouge eyes out". Isn't 
that terrible? Awareness, awareness, awareness! In awareness is 
healing; in awareness is truth; in awareness is salvation; in 
awareness is spirituality; in awareness is growth; in awareness is 
love; in awareness is awakening. Awareness. 

I need to talk about words and concepts because I must explain to 
you why it is, when we look at a tree, we really don't see. We think 
we do, but we don't. When we look at a person, we really don't see 
that person, we only think we do. What we're seeing is something 
that we fixed in our mind. We get an impression and we hold on to 
that impression, and we keep looking at a person through that 

And we do this with almost everything. If you understand that, you 
will understand the loveliness and beauty of being aware of 
everything around you. Because reality is there; "God", whatever that 
is, is there. It's all there. The poor little fish in the ocean says, 
"Excuse me, I 'm looking for the ocean. Can you tell me where I can 
find it"? Pathetic, isn't it? If we would just open our eyes and see, 
then we would understand. 

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Next Section 04 
Pick any section from Here 

NewTriLite List 

Cosmic Cookies List 

Cosmic Cooicies 


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Wisdom from Anthony de 


... Articles ... Essays ... Stories ... Sayings ... 



Lets get back to that marvelous sentence in the gospel about losing 
oneself in order to find oneself. One finds it in most religious 
literature and in all religious and spiritual and mystical literature. How 
does one lose oneself? Did you ever try to lose something? That's 
right, the harder you try, the harder it gets. It's when you're not 
trying that you lose things. You lose something when you're not 
aware. Well, how does one die to oneself? We're talking about death 
now, we're not talking about suicide. We're not told to kill the self, 
but to die. Causing pain to the self, causing suffering to the self 
would be self-defeating. It would be counterproductive. You're never 
so full of yourself as when you're in pain. 

You're never so centered on yourself as when you're depressed. 
You're never so ready to forget yourself as when you are happy. 
Happiness releases you from self. It is suffering and pain and misery 
and depression that tie you to the self. Look how conscious you are of 
your tooth when you have a toothache. When you don't have a 
toothache, you're not even aware you have a tooth, or that you have 
a head, for that matter, when you don't have a headache. But it's so 
different when you have a splitting headache. 

So it's quite false, quite erroneous, to think that the way to deny the 
self is to cause pain to the self, to go in for abnegation, mortification, 

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as these were traditionally understood. To deny the self, to die to it, 
to lose it, is to understand its true nature. When you do that, it will 
disappear; it will vanish. Suppose somebody walks into my room one 
day. I say, "Come right in. May I know who you are"? And he says, "I 
am Napoleon". And I say, "Not the Napoleon . . ". And he says, 
"Precisely. Bonaparte, Emperor of France". "What do you know"! I 
say, even while I'm thinking to myself, "I better handle this guy with 
care". "Sit down. Your Majesty", I say. He says, "Well, they tell me 
you're a pretty good spiritual director. I have a spiritual problem. I'm 
anxious, I'm finding it hard to trust in God. I have my armies in 
Russia, see, and I'm spending sleepless nights wondering how it's 
going to turn out". So I say, "Well, Your Majesty, I could certainly 
prescribe something for that. What I suggest is that you read chapter 
6 of Matthew: "Consider the lilies of the field . . . they neither toil nor 

By this point I'm wondering who is crazier, this guy or me. But I go 
along with this lunatic. That's what the wise guru does with you in the 
beginning. He goes along with you; he takes your troubles seriously. 
He'll wipe a tear or two from your eye. You're crazy, but you don't 
know it yet. The time has to come soon when he'll pull the rug out 
from under your feet and tell you, "Get off it, you're not Napoleon". 
In those famous dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, God is reported 
to have said to her, "I am He who is; you are she who is not". Have 
you ever experienced your is-not-ness? 

I n the East we have an image for this. 1 1 is the image of the dancer 
and the dance. God is viewed as the dancer and creation as God's 
dance. It isn't as if God is the big dancer and you are the little 
dancer. Oh no. You're not a dancer at all. You are being danced! Did 
you ever experience that? So when the man comes to his senses and 
realizes that he is not Napoleon, he does not cease to be. He 
continues to be, but he suddenly realizes that he is something other 
than what he thought he was. 

To lose the self is to suddenly realize that you are something other 
than what you thought you were. You thought you were at the 
center; now you experience yourself as satellite. You thought you 
were the dancer; you now experience yourself as the dance. These 
are just analogies, images, so you cannot take them literally. They 
just give you a clue, a hint; they're only pointers, don't forget. So you 
cannot press them too much. Don't take them too literally. 

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To move on to another idea, there is the whole matter of one's 
personal worth. Personal worth doesn't mean self-worth. Where do 
you get self-worth from? Do you get it from success in your work? Do 
you get it from having a lot of money? Do you get it from attracting a 
lot of men (if you're a woman) or a lot of women (if you're a man)? 
How fragile all that is, how transitory. When we talk about self-worth, 
are we not talking, really, about how we are reflected in the mirrors 
of other people's minds? But do we need to depend on that? One 
understands one's personal worth when one no longer identifies or 
defines one's self in terms of these transient things. I 'm not beautiful 
because everyone says I'm beautiful. I'm really neither beautiful nor 

These are things that come and go. I could be suddenly transformed 
into a very ugly creature tomorrow, but it is still "I". Then, say, I get 
plastic surgery and I become beautiful again. Does the "I" really 
become beautiful? You need to give a lot of time to reflect on these 
things. I 've thrown them at you in rapid succession, but if you would 
take the time to understand what I have been saying, to dwell on it, 
you'll have a gold mine there. I know, because when I stumbled upon 
these things for the first time, what a treasure I discovered. 

Pleasant experiences make life delightful. Painful experiences lead to 
growth. Pleasant experiences make life delightful, but they don't lead 
to growth in themselves. What leads to growth is painful experiences. 
Suffering points up an area in you where you have not yet grown, 
where you need to grow and be transformed and change. If you knew 
how to use that suffering, oh, how you would grow. Let's limit 
ourselves, for the time being, to psychological suffering, to all those 
negative emotions we have. Don't waste your time on a single one of 
them. I 've already told you what you could do with those emotions. 
The disappointment you experience when things don't turn out as you 
wanted them to, watch that! Look at what it says about you. I say 
this without condemnation (otherwise you're going to get caught up 
in self-hatred). Observe it as you would observe it in another person. 
Look at that disappointment, that depression you experience when 
you are criticized. What does that say about you? 

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Have you heard about the fellow who said, "Who says that worry 
doesn't help? It certainly does help. Every time I worry about 
something it doesn't happen"! Well, it certainly helped him. Or the 
other fellow who says, "The neurotic is a person who worries about 
something that did not happen in the past. He's not like us normal 
people who worry about things that will not happen in the future". 
That's the issue. That worry, that anxiety, what does it say about 
you? Negative feelings, every negative feeling is useful for 
awareness, for understanding. They give you the opportunity to feel 
it, to watch it from the outside. In the beginning, the depression will 
still be there, but you will have cut your connection with it. 

Gradually you will understand the depression. As you understand it, it 
will occur less frequently, and will disappear altogether. Maybe, but 
by that time it won't matter too much. Before enlightenment I used 
to be depressed. After enlightenment I continue to be depressed. But 
gradually, or rapidly, or suddenly, you get the state of wakefulness. 
This is the state where you drop desires. But remember what I meant 
by desire and cravings. I meant: "Unless I get what I desire, I refuse 
to be happy". I mean cases where happiness depends on the 
fulfillment of desire. 


Do not suppress desire, because then you would become lifeless. 
You'd be without energy and that would be terrible. Desire in the 
healthy sense of the word is energy, and the more energy we have, 
the better. But don't suppress desire, understand it. Understand it. 
Don't seek to fulfill desire so much as to understand desire. And don't 
just renounce the objects of your desire, understand them; see them 
in their true light. See them for what they are really worth. Because if 
you just suppress your desire, and you attempt to renounce the 
object of your desire, you are likely to be tied to it. Whereas if you 
look at it and see it for what it is really worth, if you understand how 
you are preparing the grounds for misery and disappointment and 
depression, your desire will then be transformed into what I call a 

When you go through life with preferences but don't let your 

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happiness depend on any one of them, then you're awake. You're 
moving toward wal<efulness. Wal<efulness, happiness - call it what 
you wish - is the state of nondelusion, where you see things not as 
you are but as they are, insofar as this is possible for a human being. 
To drop illusions, to see things, to see reality. Every time you are 
unhappy, you have added something to reality. It is that addition that 
makes you unhappy. I repeat: You have added something ... a 
negative reaction in you. Reality provides the stimulus, you provide 
the reaction. You have added something by your reaction. And if you 
examine what you have added, there is always an illusion there, 
there's a demand, an expectation, a craving. Always. Examples of 
illusions abound. But as you begin to move ahead on this path, you'll 
discover them for yourself. 

For instance, the illusion, the error of thinking that, by changing the 
exterior world, you will change. You do not change if you merely 
change your exterior world. If you get yourself a new job or a new 
spouse or a new home or a new guru or a new spirituality, that does 
not change you. It's like imagining that you change your handwriting 
by changing your pen. Or that you change your capacity to think by 
changing your hat. That doesn't change you really, but most people 
spend all their energies trying to rearrange their exterior world to suit 
their tastes. Sometimes they succeed - for about five minutes they 
get a little respite, but they are tense even during that respite, 
because life is always flowing, life-is always changing. 

So if you want to live, you must have no permanent abode. You must 
have no place to rest your head. You have to flow with it. As the 
great Confucius said, "The one who would be constant in happiness 
must frequently change". Flow. But we keep looking back, don't we? 
We cling to things in the past and cling to things in the present. 
"When you set your hand to the plow, you cannot look back". Do you 
want to enjoy a melody? Do you want to enjoy a symphony? Don't 
hold on to a few bars of the music. Don't hold on to a couple of notes. 
Let them pass, let them flow. 

The whole enjoyment of a symphony lies in your readiness to allow 
the notes to pass. Whereas if a particular bar took your fancy and 
you shouted to the orchestra, "Keep playing it again and again and 
again", that wouldn't be a symphony anymore. Are you familiar with 
those tales of Nasr-ed-Din, the old mullah? He's a legendary figure 
whom the Greeks, Turks, and Persians all claim for themselves. He 
would give his mystical teachings in the form of stories, generally 
funny stories. And the butt of the story was always old Nasr-ed-Din 

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One day Nasr-ed-Din was strumming a guitar, playing just one note. 
After a while a crowd collected around him (this was in a 
marketplace) and one of the men sitting on the ground there said, 
"That's a nice note you're playing. Mullah, but why don't you vary it a 
bit the way other musicians do"? "Those fools", Nasr-ed-Din said, 
"they're searching for the right note. I 've found it. 


When you cling, life is destroyed; when you hold on to anything, you 
cease to live. It's all over the gospel pages. And one attains this by 
understanding. Understand. Understand another illusion, too, that 
happiness is not the same as excitement, it's not the same as thrills. 
That's another illusion, that a thrill comes from living a desire 
fulfilled. Desire breeds anxiety and sooner or later it brings its 
hangover. When you've suffered sufficiently, then you are ready to 
see it. You're feeding yourself with thrills. This is like feeding a 
racehorse with delicacies. You're giving it cakes and wine. You don't 
feed a racehorse like that. It's like feeding human beings with drugs. 
You don't fill your stomach with drugs. You need good, solid, 
nutritious food and drink. You need to understand all this for yourself. 

Another illusion is that someone else can do this for you, that some 
savior or guru or teacher can do this for you. Not even the greatest 
guru in the world can take a single step for you. You've got to take it 
yourself. St. Augustine said it so marvelously "Jesus Christ himself 
could do nothing for many of his hearers". Or to repeat that lovely 
Arab saying "The nature of the rain is the same and yet it produces 
thorns in the marsh and flowers in the garden". It is you who have to 
do it. No one else can help you. It is you who have to digest your 
food, it is you who have to understand. No one else can understand 
for you. It is you who have to seek. Nobody can seek for you. And if 
what you seek is truth, then you must do this. You can lean on no 

There is yet another illusion, that is it important to be respectable, to 
be loved and appreciated, to be important. Many say we have a 
natural urge to be loved and appreciated, to belong. That's false. 

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Drop this illusion and you will find happiness. We have a natural urge 
to be free, a natural urge to love, but not to be loved. Sometimes in 
my psychotherapy sessions I encounter a very common problem - 
Nobody loves me; how, then, can I be happy? I explain to him or her 
"You mean you never have any moments when you forget you're not 
loved and you let go and are happy"? Of course they have. 

A woman, for example, is absorbed in a movie. It's a comedy and 
she's roaring with laughter and in that blessed moment she's 
forgotten to remind herself that nobody loves her, nobody loves her, 
nobody loves her. She's happy! Then she comes out of the theater 
and her friend whom she saw the movie with goes off with a 
boyfriend, leaving the woman all alone. So she starts thinking, "All 
my friends have boyfriends and I have no one. I 'm so unhappy. 
Nobody loves me"! 

I n I ndia, many of our poor people are starting to get transistor 
radios, which are quite a luxury. "Everybody has a transistor", you 
hear, "but I don't have a transistor; I'm so unhappy". Until everyone 
started getting transistors, they were perfectly happy without one. 
That's the way it is with you. Until somebody told you you wouldn't 
be happy unless you were loved, you were perfectly happy. You can 
become happy not being loved, not being desired by or attractive to 
someone. You become happy by contact with reality. That's what 
brings happiness, a moment-by-moment contact with reality. That's 
where you'll find God; that's where you'll find happiness. But most 
people are not ready to hear that. 

Another illusion is that external events have the power to hurt you, 
that other people have the power to hurt you. They don't. It's you 
who give this power to them. 

Another illusion You are all those labels that people have put on you, 
or that you have put on yourself. You're not, you're not! So you don't 
have to cling to them. The day that somebody tells me I 'm a genius 
and I take that seriously, I'm in big trouble. Can you understand 
why? Because now I 'm going to start getting tense. I 've got to live up 
to it, I 've got to maintain it. I 've got to find out after every lecture 
"Did you like the lecture? Do you still think I'm a genius"? See? So 
what you need to do is smash the label! Smash it, and you're free! 
Don't identify with those labels. 

That's what someone else thinks. That's how he experienced you at 
that moment. Are you in fact a genius? Are you a nut? Are you a 

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mystic? Are you crazy? What does it really matter? Provided you 
continue to be aware, to live life from moment to moment. How 
marvelously it is described in those words of the gospel "Look at the 
birds of the air they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns . . . 
Consider the lilies of the field . . . they neither toil nor spin". That's 
the real mystic speaking, the awakened person. 

So why are you anxious? Can you, for all your anxieties, add a single 
moment to your life? Why bother about tomorrow? Is there a life 
after death? Will I survive after death? Why bother about tomorrow? 
Get into today. Someone said, "Life is something that happens to us 
while we're busy making other plans". That's pathetic. Live in the 
present moment. This is one of the things you will notice happening 
to you as you come awake. You find yourself living in the present, 
tasting every moment as you live it. Another fairly good sign is when 
you hear the symphony one note after the other without wanting to 
stop it. 


That brings me to another theme, another topic. But this new topic 
ties in very much with what I've been saying and with my suggestion 
of becoming aware of all the things we add to reality. Let's take this 
one step at a time. 

A J esuit was telling me the other day how years ago he gave a talk in 
New York, where Puerto Ricans were very unpopular at the time 
because of some incident. Everybody was saying all kinds of things 
against them. So in his talk he said, "Let me read to you some of the 
things that the people in New York were saying about certain 
immigrants". What he read to them was actually what people had 
said about the Irish, and about the Germans, and about every other 
wave of emigrants that had come to New York years before! 

He put it very well when he said, "These people don't bring 
delinquency with them; they become delinquent when they're faced 
with certain situations here. We've got to understand them. If you 
want to cure the situation, it's useless reacting from prejudice. You 
need understanding, not condemnation". That is how you bring about 
change in yourself. Not by condemnation, not by calling yourself 

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names, but by understanding what's going on. Not by calling yourself 
a dirty old sinner. No, no, no, no! 

In order to get awareness, you've got to see, and you can't see if 
you're prejudiced. Almost everything and every person we look at, we 
look at in a prejudiced way. It's almost enough to dishearten 

Like meeting a long-lost friend. "Hey, Tom", I say, "It's good to see 
you", and I give him a big hug. Whom am I hugging, Tom or my 
memory of him? A living human being or a corpse? I'm assuming that 
he's still the attractive guy I thought he was. I'm assuming he still fits 
in with the idea I have of him and with my memories and 
associations. So I give him a hug. Five minutes later I find that he's 
changed and I have no more interest in him. I hugged the wrong 
person. If you want to see how true this is, listen: A religious sister 
from India goes out to make a retreat. Everybody in the community 
is saying, "Oh, we know, that's part of her charisma; she's always 
attending workshops and going to retreats; nothing will ever change 
her". Now, it so happens that the sister does change at this particular 
workshop, or therapy group, or whatever it is. 

She changes; everyone notices the difference. Everyone says, "My, 
you've really come to some insights, haven't you"? She has, and they 
can see the difference in her behavior, in her body, in her face. You 
always do when there's an inner change. It always registers in your 
face, in your eyes, in your body. Well, the sister goes back to her 
community, and since the community has a prejudiced, fixed idea 
about her, they're going to continue to look at her through the eyes 
of that prejudice. 

They're the only ones who don't see any change in her. They say, 
"Oh well, she seems a little more spirited, but just wait, she'll be 
depressed again". And within a few weeks she is depressed again; 
she's reacting to their reaction. And they all say, "See, we told you 
so; she hadn't changed". But the tragedy is that she had, only they 
didn't see it. Perception has devastating consequences in the matter 
of love and human relationships. 

Whatever a relationship may be, it certainly entails two things clarity 
of perception (inasmuch as we're capable of it; some people would 
dispute to what extent we can attain clarity of perception, but I don't 
think anyone would dispute that it is desirable that we move toward 
it) and accuracy of response. You're more likely to respond accurately 

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when you perceive clearly. When your perception is distorted, you're 
not likely to respond accurately. How can you love someone whom 
you do not even see? Do you really see someone you are attached 
to? Do you really see someone you're afraid of and therefore dislike? 
We always hate what we fear. 

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom", people say to me 
sometimes. But wait a minute. I hope they understand what they're 
saying, because we always hate what we fear. We always want to 
destroy and get rid of and avoid what we fear. When you fear 
somebody, you dislike that person. You dislike that person insofar as 
you fear that person. And you don't see that person either, because 
your emotion gets in the way. Now, that's just as true when you are 
attracted to someone. When true love enters, you no longer like or 
even dislike people in the ordinary sense of the word. 

You see them clearly and you respond accurately. But at this human 
level, your likes and dislikes and preferences and attractions, etc., 
continue to get in the way. So you have to be aware of your 
prejudices, your likes, your dislikes, your attractions. They're all 
there, they come from your conditioning. How come you like things 
that I don't like? Because your culture is different from mine. Your 
upbringing is different from mine. If I gave you some of the things to 
eat that I relish, you'd turn away in disgust. 

There are people in certain parts of India who love dog flesh. Yet 
others, if they were told they were being served dog steak, would feel 
sick. Why? Different conditioning, different programming. Hindus 
would feel sick if they knew they had eaten beef, but Americans 
enjoy it. You ask, "But why won't they eat beef"? For the same 
reason you won't eat your pet dog. The same reason. The cow, to the 
Indian peasant, is what your pet dog is to you. He doesn't want to 
eat it. There is a built-in cultural prejudice against it which saves an 
animal that's needed so much for farming, etc. 

So why do I fall in love with a person really? Why is it that I fall in 
love with one kind of person and not another? Because I'm 
conditioned. I've got an image, subconsciously, that this particular 
type of person appeals to me, attracts me. So when I meet this 
person, I fall head over heels in love. But have I seen her? No! I'll see 
her after I marry her; that's when the awakening comes! And that's 
when love may begin. 

But falling in love has nothing to do with love at all. It isn't love, it's 

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desire, burning desire. You want, with all your heart, to be told by 
this adorable creature that you're attractive to her. That gives you a 
tremendous sensation. Meanwhile, everybody else is saying, "What 
the hell does he see in her"? But it's his conditioning - he's not 
seeing. They say that love is blind. Believe me, there's nothing so 
clear-sighted as true love, nothing. It's the most clear-sighted thing 
in the world. Addiction is blind, attachments are blind. 

Clinging, craving, and desire are blind. But not true love. Don't call 
them love. But, of course, the word has been desecrated in most 
modern languages. People talk about making love and falling in love. 
Like the little boy who says to the little girl, "Have you ever fallen in 
love"? And she answers, "No, but I've fallen in like". 

So what are people talking about when they fall in love? The first 
thing we need is clarity of perception. One reason we don't perceive 
people clearly is evident - our emotions get in the way, our 
conditioning, our likes and dislikes. We've got to grapple with that 
fact. But we've got to grapple with something much more 
fundamental - with our ideas, with our conclusions, with our 

Believe it or not, every concept that was meant to help us get in 
touch with reality ends up by being a barrier to getting in touch with 
reality, because sooner or later we forget that the words are not the 
thing. The concept is not the same as the reality. They're different. 
That's why I said to you earlier that the final barrier to finding God is 
the word "God" itself and the concept of God. It gets in the way if 
you're not careful. It was meant to be a help; it can be a help, but it 
can also be a barrier. 


Every time I have a concept, it is something that I could apply to a 
number of individuals. We're not talking about a concrete, particular 
name like Mary or John, which doesn't have a conceptual meaning. A 
concept applies to any number of individuals, countless individuals. 
Concepts are universal. For instance, the word "leaf" could be applied 
to every single leaf on a tree; the same word applies to all those 
individual leaves. Moreover, the same word applies to all the leaves 

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on all trees, big ones, small ones, tender ones, dried ones, yellow 
ones, green ones, banana leaves. So if I say to you that I saw a leaf 
this morning, you really don't have an idea of what I saw. 

Let's see if you can understand that. You do have an idea of what I 
did not see. I did not see an animal. I did not see a dog. I did not see 
a human being. I did not see a shoe. So you have some kind of a 
vague idea of what I saw, but it isn't particularized, it isn't concrete. 
"Human being" refers not to primitive man, not to civilized man, not 
to grownup man, not to a child, not to a male or a female, not to this 
particular age or another, not to this culture or the other, but to the 
concept. The human being is found concrete; you never find a 
universal human being like your concept. So your concept points, but 
it is never entirely accurate; it misses uniqueness, concreteness. The 
concept is universal. 

When I give you a concept, I give you something, and yet how little I 
have given you. The concept is so valuable, so useful for science. For 
instance, if I say that everyone here is an animal, that would be 
perfectly accurate from a scientific viewpoint. But we're something 
more than animals. If I say that Mary J ane is an animal, that's true; 
but because I've omitted something essential about her, it's false; it 
does her an injustice. When I call a person a woman, that's true; but 
there are lots of things in that person that don't fit into the concept 
"woman". She is always this particular, concrete, unique woman, who 
can only be experienced, not conceptualized. The concrete person 
I've got to see for myself, to experience for myself, to intuit for 
myself. The individual can be intuited but cannot be conceptualized. 

A person is beyond the thinking mind. Many of you would probably be 
proud to be called Americans, as many Indians would probably be 
proud to be called Indians. But what is "American", what is "Indian"? 
It's a convention; it's not part of your nature. All you've got is a label. 
You really don't know the person. The concept always misses or omits 
something extremely important, something precious that is only 
found in reality, which is concrete uniqueness. 

The great Krishnamurti put it so well when he said, "The day you 
teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird 
again". How true! The first time the child sees that fluffy, alive, 
moving object, and you say to him, "Sparrow", then tomorrow when 
the child sees another fluffy, moving object similar to it he says, "Oh, 
sparrows. I've seen sparrows. I'm bored by sparrows". 

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If you don't look at things through your concepts, you'll never be 
bored. Every single thing is unique. Every sparrow is unlike every 
other sparrow despite the similarities. It's a great help to have 
similarities, so we can abstract, so that we can have a concept. It's a 
great help, from the point of view of communication, education, 
science. But it's also very misleading and a great hindrance to seeing 
this concrete individual. If all you experience is your concept, you're 
not experiencing reality, because reality is concrete. The concept is a 
help, to lead you to reality, but when you get there, you've got to 
intuit or experience it directly. 

A second quality of a concept is that it is static whereas reality is in 
flux. We use the same name for Niagara Falls, but that body of water 
is constantly changing. You've got the word "river", but the water 
there is constantly flowing. You've got one word for your "body", but 
the cells in your body are constantly being renewed. Let's suppose, 
for example, there is an enormous wind outside and I want the 
people in my country to get an idea of what an American gale or 
hurricane is like. 

So I capture it in a cigar box and I go back home and say, "Look at 
this". Naturally, it isn't a gale anymore, is it? Once it's captured. Or if 
I want you to get the feel of what the flow of a river is like and I 
bring it to you in a bucket. The moment I put into a bucket it has 
stopped flowing. The moment you put things into a concept, they 
stop flowing; they become static, dead. A frozen wave is not a wave. 
A wave is essentially movement, action; when you freeze it, it is not 
a wave. Concepts are always frozen. Reality flows. 

Finally, if we are to believe the mystics (and it doesn't take too much 
of an effort to understand this, or even believe it, but no one can see 
it at once), reality is whole, but words and concepts fragment reality. 
That is why it is so difficult to translate from one language to another, 
because each language cuts reality up differently. The English word 
"home" is impossible to translate into French or Spanish. "Casa" is 
not quite "home"; "home" has associations that are peculiar to the 
English language. 

Every language has untranslatable words and expressions, because 
we're cutting reality up and adding something or subtracting 
something and usage keeps changing. Reality is a whole and we cut it 
up to make concepts and we use words to indicate different parts. If 
you had never seen an animal in your life, for example, and one day 
you found a tail -- just a tail -- and somebody told you, "That's a 

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tail", would you have any idea of what it was if you had no idea what 
an animal was? 

Ideas actually fragment the vision, intuition, or experience of reality 
as a whole. This is what the mystics are perpetually telling us. Words 
cannot give you reality. They only point, they only indicate. You use 
them as pointers to get to reality. But once you get there, your 
concepts are useless. A Hindu priest once had a dispute with a 
philosopher who claimed that the final barrier to God was the word 
"God", the concept of God. 

The priest was quite shocked by this, but the philosopher said, "The 
ass that you mount and that you use to travel to a house is not the 
means by which you enter the house. You use the concept to get 
there; then you dismount, you go beyond it". You don't need to be a 
mystic to understand that reality is something that cannot be 
captured by words or concepts. To know reality you have to know 
beyond knowing. 

Do those words ring a bell? Those of you who are familiar with The 
Cloud of Unknowing would recognize the expression. Poets, painters, 
mystics, and the great philosophers all have intimations of its truth. 
Let's suppose that one day I'm watching a tree. Until now, every time 
I saw a tree, I said, "Well, it's a tree". But today when I'm looking at 
the tree, I don't see a tree. At least I don't see what I 'm accustomed 
to seeing. I see something with the freshness of a child's vision. I 
have no word for it. I see something unique, whole, flowing, not 
fragmented. And I'm in awe. If you were to ask me, "What did you 
see"? what do you think I'd answer? I have no word for it. There is no 
word for reality. Because as soon as I put a word to it, we're back 
into concepts again. 

And if I cannot express this reality that is visible to my senses, how 
does one express what cannot be seen by the eye or heard by the 
ear? How does one find a word for the reality of God? Are you 
beginning to understand what Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, and all 
the rest were saying and what the Church teaches constantly when 
she says that God is mystery, is unintelligible to the human mind? 

The great Karl Rahner, in one of his last letters, wrote to a young 
German drug addict who had asked him for help. The addict had said, 
"You theologians talk about God, but how could this God be relevant 
in my life? How could this God get me off drugs? Rahner said to him, 
"I must confess to you in all honesty that for me God is and has 

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always been absolute mystery. I do not understand what God is; no 
one can. We have intimations, inklings; we make faltering, 
inadequate attempts to put mystery into words. But there is no word 
for it, no sentence for it". And talking to a group of theologians in 
London, Rahner said, "The task of the theologian is to explain 
everything through God, and to explain God as unexplainable". 
Unexplainable mystery. One does not know, one cannot say. One 
says, "Ah. . . Ah . . ". 

Words are pointers, they're not descriptions. Tragically, people fall 
into idolatry because they think that where God is concerned, the 
word is the thing. How could you get so crazy? Can you be crazier 
than that? Even where human beings are concerned, or trees and 
leaves and animals, the word is not the thing. And you would say 
that, where God is concerned, the word is one thing? What are you 
talking about? An internationally famous scripture scholar attended 
this course in San Francisco, and he said to me, "My God, after 
listening to you, I understand that I've been an idol worshipper all my 
life!" He said this openly. "It never struck me that I had been an idol 
worshipper. My idol was not made of wood or metal; it was a mental 
idol". These are the more dangerous idol worshippers. They use a 
very subtle substance, the mind, to produce their God. 

What I'm leading you to is the following awareness of reality around 
you. Awareness means to watch, to observe what is going on within 
you and around you. "Going on" is pretty accurate Trees, grass, 
flowers, animals, rock, all of reality is moving. One observes it, one 
watches it. How essential it is for the human being not just to 
observe himself or herself, but to watch all of reality. Are you 
imprisoned by your concepts? Do you want to break out of your 
prison? Then look; observe; spend hours observing. Watching what? 

The faces of people, the shapes of trees, a bird in flight, a pile of 
stones, watch the grass grow. Get in touch with things, look at them. 
Hopefully you will then break out of these rigid patterns we have all 
developed, out of what our thoughts and our words have imposed on 
us. Hopefully we will see. What will we see? This thing that we choose 
to call reality, whatever is beyond words and concepts. This is a 
spiritual exercise connected with spirituality connected with breaking 
out of your cage, out of the imprisonment of the concepts and words. 

How sad if we pass through life and never see it with the eyes of a 
child. This doesn't mean you should drop your concepts totally; 

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they're very precious. Though we begin without them, concepts have 
a very positive function. Thanl<s to them we develop our intelligence. 
We're invited, not to become children, but to become like children. 
We do have to fall from a stage of innocence and be thrown out of 
paradise; we do have to develop an "I" and a "me" through these 
concepts. But then we need to return to paradise. 

We need to be redeemed again. We need to put off the old man, the 
old nature, the conditioned self, and return to the state of the child 
but without being a child. When we start off in life, we look at reality 
with wonder, but it isn't the intelligent wonder of the mystics; it's the 
formless wonder of the child. Then wonder dies and is replaced by 
boredom, as we develop language and words and concepts. Then 
hopefully, if we're lucky, we'll return to wonder again. 


Dag Hammarskjold, the former UN Secretary-General, put it so 
beautifully "God does not die on the day we cease to believe in a 
personal deity. But we die on the day when our lives cease to be 
illumined by the steady radiance of wonder renewed daily, the source 
of which is beyond all reason". We don't have to quarrel about a 
word, because "God" is only a word, a concept. One never quarrels 
about reality; we only quarrel about opinions, about concepts, about 
judgments. Drop your concepts, drop your opinions, drop your 
prejudices, drop your judgments, and you will see that. 

"Quia de deo scire non possumus quid sit, sed quid non sit, non 
possumus considerare de deo, quomodo sit sed quomodo non sit". 
This is St. Thomas Aquinas' introduction to his whole Summa 
Theologica "Since we cannot know what God is, but only what God is 
not, we cannot consider how God is but only how He is not". I have 
already mentioned Thomas' commentary on Boethius' De Sancta 
Trinitate, where he says that the loftiest degree of the knowledge of 
God is to know God as the unknown, tamquam ignotum. And in his 
Questio Disputata de Potentia Dei, Thomas says, "This is what is 
ultimate in the human knowledge of God - to know that we do not 
know God". This gentleman was considered the prince of theologians. 
He was a mystic, and is a canonized saint today. We're standing on 

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pretty good ground. 

I n I ndia, we have a Sanskrit saying for this l<ind of thing "neti, neti". 
It means "not that, not that". Thomas' own method was referred to 
as the via negativa, the negative way. C. S. Lewis wrote a diary while 
his wife was dying. It's called A Grief Observed. He had married an 
American woman whom he loved dearly. He told his friends, "God 
gave me in my sixties what He denied me in my twenties". He hardly 
had married her when she died a painful death of cancer. Lewis said 
that his whole faith crumbled, like a house of cards. Here he was the 
great Christian apologist, but when disaster struck home, he asked 
himself, "Is God a loving Father or is God the great vivisectionist"? 

There's pretty good evidence for both! I remember that when my 
own mother got cancer, my sister said to me, "Tony, why did God 
allow this to happen to Mother"? I said to her, "My dear, last year a 
million people died of starvation in China because of the drought, and 
you never raised a question". Sometimes the best thing that can 
happen to us is to be awakened to reality, for calamity to strike, for 
then we come to faith, as C. S. Lewis did. He said that he never had 
any doubts before about people surviving death, but when his wife 
died, he was no longer certain. Why? Because it was so important to 
him that she be living. Lewis, as you know, is the master of 
comparisons and analogies. 

He says, "It's like a rope. Someone says to you, 'Would this bear the 
weight of a hundred twenty pounds?' You answer, 'Yes.' 'Well, we're 
going to let down your best friend on this rope.' Then you say, 'Wait a 
minute, let me test that rope again.' You're not so sure now". Lewis 
also said in his diary that we cannot know anything about God and 
even our questions about God are absurd. Why? It's as though a 
person born blind asks you, "The color green, is it hot or cold"? Neti, 
neti, not that. "Is it long or is it short"? Not that. "Is it sweet or is it 
sour"? Not that. "Is it round or oval or square"? Not that, not that. 

The blind person has no words, no concepts, for a color of which he 
has no idea, no intuition, no experience. You can only speak to him in 
analogies. No matter what he asks, you can only say, "Not that". C.S. 
Lewis says somewhere that it's like asking how many minutes are in 
the color yellow. Everybody could be taking the question very 
seriously, discussing it, fighting about it. One person suggests there 
are twenty-five carrots in the color yellow, the other person says, 
"No, seventeen potatoes", and they're suddenly fighting. Not that, 
not that! 

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This is what is ultimate in our human l<nowledge of God, to l<now that 
we do not l<now. Our great tragedy is that we l<now too much. We 
thinl< we l<now, that is our tragedy; so we never discover. I n fact, 
Thomas Aquinas (he's not only a theologian but also a great 
philosopher) says repeatedly, "All the efforts of the human mind 
cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly". 


Something more about words. 

I said to you earlier that words are limited. There is more I have to 
add. There are some words that correspond to nothing. For instance, 
I 'm an I ndian. Now, let's suppose that I 'm a prisoner of war in 
Pakistan, and they say to me, "Well, today we're going to take you to 
the frontier, and you're going to take a look at your country". 

So they bring me to the frontier, and I look across the border, and I 
think, "Oh, my country, my beautiful country. I see villages and trees 
and hills. This is my own, my native land!" After a while one of the 
guards says, "Excuse me, we've made a mistake here. We have to 
move up another ten miles". What was I reacting to? Nothing. I kept 
focusing on a word, India. But trees are not India; trees are trees. 

In fact, there are no frontiers or boundaries. They were put there by 
the human mind; generally by stupid, avaricious politicians. My 
country was one country once upon a time; it's four now. If we don't 
watch out it might be six. Then we'll have six flags, six armies. That's 
why you'll never catch me saluting a flag. I abhor all national flags 
because they are idols. What are we saluting? I salute humanity, not 
a flag with an army around it. 

Flags are in the heads of people. I n any case, there are thousands of 
words in our vocabulary that do not correspond to reality at all. But 
do they trigger emotions in us! So we begin to see things that are not 
there. We actually see Indian mountains when they don't exist, and 
we actually see Indian people who also don't exist. Your American 
conditioning exists. My Indian conditioning exists. 

But that's not a very happy thing. Nowadays, in Third World 

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countries, we talk a great deal about "inculturation". What is this 
thing called "culture"? I'm not very happy with the word. Does it 
mean you'd like to do something because you were conditioned to do 
it? That you'd like to feel something because you were conditioned to 
feel it? Isn't that being mechanical? Imagine an American baby that is 
adopted by a Russian couple and taken to Russia. It has no notion 
that it was born American. It's brought up talking Russian; it lives 
and dies for Mother Russia; it hates Americans. 

The child is stamped with his own culture; it's steeped in its own 
literature. It looks at the world through the eyes of its culture. Now, if 
you want to wear your culture the way you wear your clothes, that's 
fine. The I ndian woman would wear a sari and the American woman 
would wear something else, the Japanese woman would wear her 
kimono. But nobody identifies herself with the clothes. But you do 
want to wear your culture more intently. You become proud of your 
culture. They teach you to be proud of it. 

Let me put this as forcefully as possible. There's this J esuit friend of 
mine who said to me, "Anytime I see a beggar or a poor person, I 
cannot not give this person alms. I got that from my mother". His 
mother would offer a meal to any poor person who passed by. I said 
to him, "J oe, what you have is not a virtue; what you have is a 
compulsion, a good one from the point of view of the beggar, but a 
compulsion nonetheless". I remember another Jesuit who said to us 
once at an intimate gathering of the men of our J esuit province in 
Bombay, "I 'm eighty years old; I 've been a J esuit for sixty-five years. 

I have never once missed my hour of meditation -- never once". 
Now, that could be very admirable, or it could also be a compulsion. 
No great merit in it if it's mechanical. The beauty of an action comes 
not from its having become a habit but from its sensitivity, 
consciousness, clarity of perception, and accuracy of response. I can 
say yes to one beggar and no to another. I am not compelled by any 
conditioning or programming from my past experiences or from my 
culture. Nobody has stamped anything on me, or if they have, I'm no 
longer reacting on the basis of that. 

If you had a bad experience with an American or were bitten by a dog 
or had a bad experience with a certain type of food, for the rest of 
your life you'd be influenced by that experience. And that's bad! You 
need to be liberated from that. Don't carry over experiences from the 
past. I n fact, don't carry over good experiences from the past either. 
Learn what it means to experience something fully, then drop it and 

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move on to the next moment, uninfluenced by the previous one. 
You'd be traveling with such little baggage that you could pass 
through the eye of a needle. 

You'd know what eternal is, because eternal life is now, in the 
timeless now. Only thus will you enter into eternal life. But how many 
things we carry along with us. We never set about the task of freeing 
ourselves, of dropping the baggage, of being ourselves. I'm sorry to 
say that everywhere I go I find Muslims who use their religion, their 
worship, and their Koran to distract themselves from this task. And 
the same applies to Hindus and Christians. 

Can you imagine the human being who is no longer influenced by 
words? You can give him any number of words and he'll still give you 
a fair deal. You can say, "I'm Cardinal Archbishop So-and-so", 
but he'll still give you a fair deal; he'll see you as you are. He's 
uninfluenced by the label. 


I want to say one more thing about our perception of reality. Let me 
put it in the form of an analogy. The President of the United States 
has to get feedback from the citizens. The Pope in Rome has to get 
feedback from the whole Church. There are literally millions of items 
that could be fed to them, but they could hardly take all of them in, 
much less digest them. So they have people whom they trust to 
make abstracts, summarize things, monitor, filter; in the end, some 
of it gets to their desk. Now, this is what's happening to us. From 
every pore or living cell of our bodies and from all our senses we are 
getting feedback from reality. But we are filtering things out 
constantly. Who's doing the filtering? Our conditioning? Our culture? 
Our programming? 

The way we were taught to see things and to experience them? Even 
our language can be a filter. There is so much filtering going on that 
sometimes you won't see things that are there. You only have to look 
at a paranoid person who's always feeling threatened by something 
that isn't there, who's constantly interpreting reality in terms of 
certain experiences of the past or certain conditioning that he or she 
has had. 

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But there's another demon, too, who's doing the filtering. It's called 
attachment, desire, craving. The root of sorrow is craving. Craving 
distorts and destroys perception. Fears and desires haunt us. Samuel 
Johnson said, "The knowledge that he is to swing from a scaffold 
within a week wonderfully concentrates a man's mind". You blot out 
everything else and concentrate only on the fear, or desire, or 
craving. In many ways we were drugged when we were young. 

We were brought up to need people. For what? For acceptance, 
approval, appreciation, applause - for what they called success. 
Those are words that do not correspond to reality. They are 
conventions, things that are invented, but we don't realize that they 
don't correspond to reality. What is success? It is what one group 
decided is a good thing. Another group will decide the same thing is 
bad. What is good in Washington might be considered bad in a 
Carthusian monastery. Success in a political circle might be 
considered failure in some other circles. These are conventions. 

But we treat them like realities, don't we? When we were young, we 
were programmed to unhappiness. They taught us that in order to be 
happy you need money, success, a beautiful or handsome partner in 
life, a good job, friendship, spirituality, God - you name it. Unless you 
get these things, you're not going to be happy, we were told. Now, 
that is what I call an attachment. An attachment is a belief that 
without something you are not going to be happy. Once you get 
convinced of that - and it gets into our subconscious, it gets stamped 
into the roots of our being - you are finished. "How could I be happy 
unless I have good health"? you say. 

But I 'II tell you something. I have met people dying of cancer who 
were happy. But how could they be happy if they knew they were 
going to die? But they were. "How could I be happy if I don't have 
money"? One person has a million dollars in the bank, and he feels 
insecure; the other person has practically no money, but he doesn't 
seem to feel any insecurity at all. He was programmed differently, 
that's all. Useless to exhort the first person about what to do; he 
needs understanding. Exhortations are of no great help. You need to 
understand that you've been programmed; it's a false belief. See it as 
false, see it as a fantasy. 

What are people doing all through their lives? They're busy fighting; 
fight, fight, fight. That's what they call survival. When the average 
American says he or she is making a living, it isn't a living they're 

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making, oh no! They have much more than they need to live. Come 
to my country and you'll see that. You don't need all those cars to 
live. You don't need a television set to live. You don't need makeup to 
live. You don't need all those clothes to live. But try to convince the 
average American of this. They've been brainwashed; they've been 

So they work and strive to get the desired object that will make them 
happy. Listen to this pathetic story — your story, my story, 
everybody's story: "Until I get this object (money, friendship, 
anything) I 'm not going to be happy; I 've got to strive to get it and 
then when I've got it, I've got to strive to keep it. I get a temporary 
thrill. Oh, I'm so thrilled, I've got it"! But how long does that last? A 
few minutes, a few days at the most. When you get your brand-new 
car, how long does the thrill last? Until your next attachment is 

The truth about a thrill is that I get tired of it after a while. They told 
me prayer was the big thing; they told me God was the big thing; 
they told me friendship was the big thing. And not knowing what 
prayer really was or not knowing what God really was, not knowing 
what friendship really was, we made much out of them. But after a 
while we got bored with them - bored with prayer, with God, with 
friendship. Isn't that pathetic? And there's no way out, there's simply 
no way out. It's the only model we were given - to be happy. We 
weren't given any other model. 

Our culture, our society, and, I'm sorry to say, even our religion gave 
us no other model. You've been appointed a cardinal. What a great 
honor that is! Honor? Did you say honor? You used the wrong word. 
Now others are going to aspire to it. You lapsed into what the gospels 
call "the world" and you're going to lose your soul. The world, power, 
prestige, winning, success, honor, etc., are nonexistent things. You 
gain the world but you lose your soul. Your whole life has been empty 
and soulless. There is nothing there. There's only one way out and 
that is to get de-programmed! How do you do that? You become 
aware of the programming. 

You cannot change by an effort of the will; you cannot change 
through ideals; you cannot change through building up new habits. 
Your behavior may change, but you don't. You only change through 
awareness and understanding. When you see a stone as a stone and 
a scrap of paper as a scrap of paper, you don't think that the stone is 
a precious diamond anymore and you don't think that that scrap of 

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paper is a check for a billion dollars. When you see that, you change. 
There's no violence anymore in your attempt to change yourself. 
Otherwise, what you call change is simply moving the furniture 
around. Your behavior is changed, but not you. 


The only way to change is by changing your understanding. But what 
does it mean to understand? How do we go about it? Consider how 
we're enslaved by various attachments; we're striving to rearrange 
the world so that we can keep these attachments, because the world 
is a constant threat to them. I fear that a friend may stop loving me; 
he or she may turn to somebody else. 

I have to keep making myself attractive because I have to get this 
other person. Somebody brainwashed me into thinking I need his or 
her love. But I really don't. I don't need anybody's love; I just need 
to get in touch with reality. I need to break out of this prison of mine, 
this programming, this conditioning, these false beliefs, these 
fantasies; I need to break out into reality. Reality is lovely; it is an 
absolute delight. 

Eternal life is now. We're surrounded by it, like the fish in the ocean, 
but we have no notion about it at all. We're too distracted with this 
attachment. Temporarily, the world rearranges itself to suit our 
attachment, so we say, "Yeah, great! My team won"! But hang on; 
it'll change; you'll be depressed tomorrow. Why do we keep doing 

Do this little exercise for a few minutes. Think of something or 
someone you are attached to; in other words, something or someone 
without which or without whom you think you are not going to be 
happy. It could be your job, your career, your profession, your friend, 
your money, whatever. And say to this object or person, "I really do 
not need you to be happy. I 'm only deluding myself in the belief that 
without you I will not be happy. But I really don't need you for my 
happiness; I can be happy without you. You are not my happiness, 
you are not my joy". If your attachment is a person, he or she is not 
going to be very happy to hear you say this, but go ahead anyway. 
You can say it in the secrecy of your heart. I n any case, you'll be 

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making contact with the truth; you'll be smashing through a fantasy. 
Happiness is a state of non-illusion, of dropping the illusion. 

Or you could try another exercise. Think of a time when you were 
heartbroken and thought you would never be happy again (your 
husband died, your wife died, your best friend deserted you, you lost 
your money). What happened? Time went on, and if you managed to 
pick up another attachment or managed to find somebody else you 
were attracted to or something else you were attracted to, what 
happened to the old attachment? 

You didn't really need it to be happy, did you? That should have 
taught you, but we never learn. We're programmed; we're 
conditioned. How liberating it is not to depend emotionally on 
anything. If you could get one second's experience of that, you'd be 
breaking through your prison and getting a glimpse of the sky. 
Someday, maybe, you will even fly. 

I was afraid to say this, but I talked to God, and I told Him that I 
don't need Him. My initial reaction was "This is so contrary to 
everything that I've been brought up with". Now, some people want 
to make an exception of their attachment to God. They say, "If God is 
the God that I think He ought to be. He's not going to like it when I 
give up my attachment to Him"! All right, if you think that unless you 
get God you're not going to be happy, then this "God" you're thinking 
of has nothing to do with the real God. You're thinking of a dream 
state; you're thinking of your concept. Sometimes you have to get rid 
of "God" in order to find God. Lots of mystics tell us that. 

We've been so blinded by everything that we have not discovered the 
basic truth that attachments hurt rather than help relationships. I 
remember how frightened I was to say to an intimate friend of mine, 
"I really don't need you. I can be perfectly happy without you. And by 
telling you this I find I can enjoy your company thoroughly - no more 
anxieties, no more jealousies, no more possessiveness, no more 
clinging. It is a delight to be with you when I am enjoying you on a 
non-clinging basis. 

You're free; so am I ". But to many of you I 'm sure this is like talking 
a foreign language. It took me many, many months to fully 
understand this, and mind you, I'm a Jesuit, whose spiritual exercises 
are all about exactly this, although I missed the point because my 
culture and my society in general had taught me to view people in 
terms of my attachments. I'm quite amused, sometimes, to see even 

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seemingly objective people like therapists and spiritual directors say 
of someone, "He's a great guy, great guy, I really like him". I find out 
later that it's because he likes me that I like him. 

I look into myself, and I find the same thing coming up now and 
again. If you're attached to appreciation and praise, you're going to 
view people in terms of their threat to your attachment or their 
fostering of your attachment. If you're a politician and you want to be 
elected, how do you think you're going to look at people, how will 
your interest in people be guided? You will be concerned for the 
person who's going to get you the vote. If what you're interested in is 
sex, how do you think you're going to look at men and women? 

If you're attached to power, that colors your view of human beings. 
An attachment destroys your capacity to love. What is love? Love is 
sensitivity, love is consciousness. To give you an example I'm 
listening to a symphony, but if all I hear is the sound of the drums I 
don't hear the symphony. What is a loving heart? A loving heart is 
sensitive to the whole of life, to all persons; a loving heart doesn't 
harden itself to any person or thing. 

But the moment you become attached in my sense of the word, then 
you're blocking out many other things. You've got eyes only for the 
object of your attachment; you've got ears only for the drums; the 
heart has hardened. Moreover, it's blinded, because it no longer sees 
the object of its attachment objectively. Love entails clarity of 
perception, objectivity; there is nothing so clear-sighted as love. 

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Wisdom from Anthony de 


... Articles ... Essays ... Stories ... Sayings ... 



The heart in love remains soft and sensitive. But when you're hell- 
bent on getting this or the other thing, you become ruthless, hard, 
and insensitive. How can you love people when you need people? You 
can only use them. If I need you to make me happy, I 've got to use 
you, I 've got to manipulate you, I 've got to find ways and means of 
winning you. I cannot let you be free. I can only love people when I 
have emptied my life of people. When I die to the need for people, 
then I'm right in the desert. 

I n the beginning it feels awful, it feels lonely, but if you can take it for 
a while, you'll suddenly discover that it isn't lonely at all. It is 
solitude, it is aloneness, and the desert begins to flower. Then at last 
you'll know what love is, what God is, what reality is. But in the 
beginning giving up the drug can be tough, unless you have a very 
keen understanding or unless you have suffered enough. It's a great 
thing to have suffered. Only then can you get sick of it. You can make 
use of suffering to end suffering. 

Most people simply go on suffering. That explains the conflict I 
sometimes have between the role of spiritual director and that of 
therapist. A therapist says, "Let's ease the suffering". The spiritual 
director says, "Let her suffer, she'll get sick of this way of relating to 
people and she'll finally decide to break out of this prison of 

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emotional dependence on others". Shall I offer a palliative or remove 
a cancer? It's not easy to decide. 

A person slams a book on the table in disgust. Let him keep 
slamming it on the table. Don't pick up the book for him and tell him 
it's all right. Spirituality is awareness, awareness, awareness, 
awareness, awareness, awareness. When your mother got angry with 
you, she didn't say there was something wrong with her, she said 
there was something wrong with you; otherwise she wouldn't have 
been angry. 

Well, I made the great discovery that if you are angry. Mother, 
there's something wrong with you. So you'd better cope with your 
anger. Stay with it and cope with it. It's not mine. Whether there's 
something wrong with me or not, I'll examine that independently of 
your anger. I'm not going to be influenced by your anger. The funny 
thing is that when I can do this without feeling any negativity toward 
another, I can be quite objective about myself, too. Only a very 
aware person can refuse to pick up the guilt and anger, can say, 
"You're having a tantrum. Too bad. I don't feel the slightest desire to 
rescue you anymore, and I refuse to feel guilty". I'm not going to 
hate myself for anything I 've done. That's what guilt is. 

I 'm not going to give myself a bad feeling and whip myself for 
anything I have done, either right or wrong. I'm ready to analyze it, 
to watch it, and say, "Well, if I did wrong, it was in unawareness". 
Nobody does wrong in awareness. That's why theologians tell us very 
beautifully that J esus could do no wrong. That makes very good 
sense to me, because the enlightened person can do no wrong. The 
enlightened person is free. J esus was free and because he was free, 
he couldn't do any wrong. But since you can do wrong, you're not 


Mark Twain put it very nicely when he said, "It was so cold that if the 
thermometer had been an inch longer, we would have frozen to 
death". We do freeze to death on words. It's not the cold outside that 
matters, but the thermometer. It's not reality that matters, but what 

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you're saying to yourself about it. I was told a lovely story about a 
farmer in Finland. When they were drawing up the Russian-Finnish 
border, the farmer had to decide whether he wanted to be in Russia 
or Finland. After a long time he said he wanted to be in Finland, but 
he didn't want to offend the Russian officials.. These came to him and 
wanted to know why he wanted to be in Finland. The farmer replied, 
"It has always been my desire to live in Mother Russia, but at my age 
I wouldn't be able to survive another Russian winter". 

Russia and Finland are only words, concepts, but not for human 
beings, not for crazy human beings. We're almost never looking at 
reality. A guru was once attempting to explain to a crowd how human 
beings react to words, feed on words, live on words, rather than on 
reality. One of the men stood up and protested; he said, "I don't 
agree that words have all that much effect on us". The guru said, "Sit 
down, you son of a bitch". The man went livid with rage and said, 
"You call yourself an enlightened person, a guru, a master, but you 
ought to be ashamed of yourself". The guru then said, "Pardon me, 
sir, I was carried away. I really beg your pardon; that was a lapse; 
I'm sorry". The man finally calmed down. Then the guru said, "It took 
just a few words to get a whole tempest going within you; and it took 
just a few words to calm you down, didn't it"? Words, words, words, 
words, how imprisoning they are if they're not used properly. 


There is a difference between knowledge and awareness, between 
information and awareness. I just said to you that one cannot do evil 
in awareness. But one can do evil in knowledge or information, when 
you know something is bad. "Father, forgive them, for they know not 
what they do". I would translate that as "They're not aware of what 
they are doing". Paul says he is the greatest of sinners because he 
persecuted the Church of Christ. But, he adds, I did it in 

Or if they had been aware that they were crucifying the Lord of Glory, 
they would never have done so. Or "The time will come when they 
will persecute you and they think they are doing a service to God". 
They aren't aware. They're caught up in information and knowledge. 

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Thomas Aquinas puts it nicely winen he says, "Every time someone 
sins, they're sinning under the guise of good". They're blinding 
themselves; they're seeing something as good even though they 
know it is bad; they're rationalizing because they're seeking 
something under the pretext of good. 

Someone gave me two situations in which she found it difficult to be 
aware. She was in a service industry where many people were lined 
up, many phones were ringing, and she was alone and there were 
distractions coming from a lot of uptight, angry people. She found it 
extremely difficult to maintain serenity and calm. The other situation 
was when she was driving in traffic, with horns blowing and people 
shouting four-letter words. She asked me whether eventually that 
nervousness would dissipate and she could remain at peace. 

Did you pick up the attachment there? Peace. Her attachment to 
peace and calm. She was saying, "Unless I'm peaceful, I won't be 
happy". Did it ever occur to you that you could be happy in tensions? 
Before enlightenment, I used to be depressed, after enlightenment, I 
continue to be depressed. You don't make a goal out of relaxation 
and sensitivity. Have you ever heard of people who get tense trying 
to relax? If one is tense, one simply observes one's tension. You will 
never understand yourself if you seek to change yourself. 

The harder you try to change yourself, the worse it gets. You are 
called upon to be aware. Get the feel of that jangling telephone; get 
the feel of jarred nerves; get the sensation of the steering wheel in 
the car. I n other words, come to reality, and let tension or the 
calmness take care of itself. As a matter of fact, you will have to let 
them take care of themselves because you'll be too preoccupied with 
getting in touch with reality. Step by step, let whatever happens 
happen. Real change will come when it is brought about, not by your 
ego, but by reality. Awareness releases reality to change you. 

In awareness you change, but you've got to experience it. At this 
point you're just taking my word for it. Perhaps also you've got a plan 
to become aware. Your ego, in its own cunning way, is trying to push 
you into awareness. Watch it! You'll meet with resistance; there will 
be trouble. When someone is anxious about being aware all the time, 
you can spot the mild anxiety. They want to be awake, to find out if 
they're really awake or not. 

That's part of asceticism, not awareness. It sounds strange in a 
culture where we've been trained to achieve goals, to get 

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somewhere, but in fact there's nowhere to go because you're there 
already. The Japanese have a nice way of putting it "The day you 
cease to travel, you will have arrived". Your attitude should be "I 
want to be aware, I want to be in touch with whatever is and let 
whatever happens happen; if I'm awake, fine, and if I'm asleep, fine" 
The moment you make a goal out of it and attempt to get it, you're 
seeking ego glorification, ego promotion. 

You want the good feeling that you've made it. When you do "make 
it", you won't know. Your left hand won't know what your right hand 
is doing. "Lord, when did we do this? We had no awareness". Charity 
is never so lovely as when one has lost consciousness that one is 
practicing charity. "You mean I helped you? I was enjoying myself I 
was just doing my dance. It helped you, that's wonderful. 
Congratulations to you. No credit to me". 

When you attain, when you are aware, increasingly you will not be 
bothered about labels like "awake" or "asleep". One of my difficulties 
here is to arouse your curiosity but not your spiritual greed. Let's 
come awake, it's going to be wonderful. After a while, it doesn't 
matter; one is aware, because one lives. The unaware life is not 
worth living. And you will leave pain to take care of itself. 


The harder you try to change, the worse it can get. Does this mean 
that a certain degree of passivity is all right? Yes, the more you resist 
something, the greater power you give to it. That's the meaning, I 
think, of Jesus' words: "When someone strikes you on the right 
cheek, offer him your left as well". You always empower the demons 
you fight. That's very Oriental. But if you flow with the enemy, you 
overcome the enemy. 

How does one cope with evil? Not by fighting it but by understanding 
it. In understanding, it disappears. How does one cope with 
darkness? Not with one's fist. You don't chase darkness out of the 
room with a broom, you turn on a light. The more you fight darkness, 
the more real it becomes to you, and the more you exhaust yourself. 
But when you turn on the light of awareness, it melts. 

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Say this scrap of paper is a billion-dollar check. Ah, I must renounce 
it, the gospel says, I must give it up if I want eternal life. Are you 
going to substitute one greed - a spiritual greed - for the other 
greed? Before, you had a worldly ego and now you've got a spiritual 
ego, but you've got an ego all the same, a refined one and one more 
difficult to cope with. When you renounce something, you're tied to it. 
But if instead of renouncing it, I look at it and say, "Hey, this isn't a 
billion-dollar check, this is a scrap of paper", there is nothing to fight, 
nothing to renounce. 


I n my country, lots of men grow up with the belief that women are 
cattle. "I married her," they say. "She's my possession". Are these 
men to blame? Get ready for a shock: They aren't. J ust as many 
Americans are not to blame for the way they view Russians. Their 
glasses or perceptions simply have been dyed a certain color, and 
there they are; that's the color through which they look at the world. 
What does it take to make them real, to make them aware that 
they're looking at the world through colored glasses? There is no 
salvation till they have seen their basic prejudice. 

As soon as you look at the world through an ideology you are 
finished. No reality fits an ideology. Life is beyond that. That is why 
people are always searching for a meaning to life. But life has no 
meaning; it cannot have meaning because meaning is a formula; 
meaning is something that makes sense to the mind. Every time you 
make sense out of reality, you bump into something that destroys the 
sense you made. Meaning is only found when you go beyond 
meaning. Life only makes sense when you perceive it as mystery and 
it makes no sense to the conceptualizing mind. 

I don't say that adoration isn't important, but I do say that doubt is 
infinitely more important than adoration. Everywhere people are 
searching for objects to adore, but I don't find people awake enough 
in their attitudes and convictions. How happy we would be if terrorists 
would adore their ideology less and question more. However, we 
don't like to apply that to ourselves; we think we're all right and the 
terrorists are wrong. But a terrorist to you is a martyr to the other 

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Loneliness is when you're missing people, aloneness is when you're 
enjoying yourself. Remember that quip of George Bernard Shaw. He 
was at one of those awful cocktail parties, where nothing gets said. 
Someone asked him if he was enjoying himself. He answered, "It's 
the only thing I am enjoying here". You never enjoy others when you 
are enslaved to them. Community is not formed by a set of slaves, by 
people demanding that other people make them happy. Community is 
formed by emperors and princesses. 

You're an emperor, not a beggar; you're a princess, not a beggar. 
There's no begging bowl in a true community. There's no clinging, no 
anxiety, no fear, no hangover, no possessiveness, no demands. Free 
people form community, not slaves. This is such a simple truth, but it 
has been drowned out by a whole culture, including religious culture. 
Religious culture can be very manipulative if you don't watch out. 

Some people see awareness as a high point, a plateau, beyond 
experiencing every moment as it is. That's making a goal out of 
awareness. But with true awareness there's nowhere to go, nothing 
to achieve. How do we get to this awareness? Through awareness. 
When people say they really want to experience every moment, 
they're really talking awareness, except for that "wanting". You don't 
want to experience awareness; you do or you don't. 

A friend of mine has just gone to I reland. He told me that though he's 
an American citizen he's entitled to an Irish passport and was getting 
one because he is scared to travel abroad on an American passport. 
If terrorists walk in and say, "Let me see your passport," he wants to 
be able to say, "I 'm I rish". But when people sit next to him on the 
plane, they don't want to see labels; they want to taste and 
experience this person, as he really is. How many people spend their 
lives not eating food but eating the menu? A menu is only an 
indication of something that's available. You want to eat the steak, 
not the words. 


Can one be fully human without experiencing tragedy? The only 

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tragedy there is in the world is ignorance; all evil comes from that. 
The only tragedy there is in the world is unwakefulness and 
unawareness. From them comes fear, and from fear comes 
everything else, but death is not a tragedy at all. Dying is wonderful; 
it's only horrible to people who have never understood life. It's only 
when you're afraid of life that you fear death. 

It's only dead people who fear death. But people who are alive have 
no fear of death. One of your American authors put it so well. He said 
awakening is the death of your belief in injustice and tragedy. The 
end of the world for a caterpillar is a butterfly for the master. Death 
is resurrection. We're talking not about some resurrection that will 
happen but about one that is happening right now. If you would die 
to the past, if you would die to every minute, you would be the 
person who is fully alive, because a fully alive person is one who is 
full of death. 

We're always dying to things. We're always shedding everything in 
order to be fully alive and to be resurrected at every moment. The 
mystics, saints, and others make great efforts to wake people up. If 
they don't wake up, they're always going to have these other minor 
ills like hunger, wars, and violence. The greatest evil is sleeping 
people, ignorant people. 

A J esuit once wrote a note to Father Arrupe, his superior general, 
asking him about the relative value of communism, socialism, and 
capitalism. Father Arrupe gave him a lovely reply. He said, "A system 
is about as good or as bad as the people who use it". People with 
golden hearts would make capitalism or communism or socialism 
work beautifully. 

Don't ask the world to change - you change first. Then you'll get a 
good enough look at the world so that you'll be able to change 
whatever you think ought to be changed. Take the obstruction out of 
your own eye. If you don't, you have lost the right to change anyone 
or anything. 

Till you are aware of yourself, you have no right to interfere with 
anyone else or with the world. Now, the danger of attempting to 
change others or change things when you yourself are not aware is 
that you may be changing things for your own convenience, your 
pride, your dogmatic convictions and beliefs, or just to relieve your 
negative feelings. I have negative feelings, so you better change in 
such a way that I 'II feel good. 

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First, cope with your negative feelings so tiiat when you move out to 
change others, you're not coming from hate or negativity but from 
love. It may seem strange, too, that people can be very hard on 
others and still be very loving. The surgeon can be hard on a patient 
and yet loving. Love can be very hard indeed. 



But what does self-change entail? I've said it in so many words, over 
and over, but now I'm going to break it down into little segments. 
First, insight. Not effort, not cultivating habits, not having an ideal. 
Ideals do a lot of damage. The whole time you're focusing on what 
should be instead of focusing on what is. And so you're imposing 
what should be on a present reality, never having understood what 
present reality is. Let me give you an example of insight from my 
own experience in counseling. 

A priest comes to me and says he's lazy; he wants to be more 
industrious, more active, but he is lazy. I ask him what "lazy" means. 
In the old days I would have said to him, "Let's see, why don't you 
make a list of things you want to do every day, and then every night 
you check them off, and it will give you a good feeling; build up habit 
that way". Or I might say to him, "Who is your ideal, your patron 
saint"? And if he says St. Francis Xavier, I would tell him, "See how 
much Xavier worked. You must meditate on him and that will get you 
moving". That's one way of going about it, but, I 'm sorry to say, it's 

Making him use his willpower, effort, doesn't last very long. His 
behavior may change, but he does not. So I now move in the other 
direction. I say to him, "Lazy, what's that? There are a million types 
of laziness. Let's hear what your type of laziness is. Describe what 
you mean by lazy"? He says, "Well, I never get anything done. I don't 
feel like doing anything". I ask, "You mean right from the moment 
you get up in the morning"? "Yes", he answers. "I wake up in the 
morning and there's nothing worth getting up for". "You're depressed, 
then"? I ask. "You could call it that", he says. "I have sort of 
withdrawn". "Have you always been like this"? I ask. "Well, not 
always. When I was younger, I was more active. When I was in the 

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seminary, I was full of life". "So when did this begin"? "Oh, about 
three or four years ago". I ask him if anything happened then. 

He thinks a while. I say, "If you have to think so much, nothing very 
special could have happened four years ago. How about the year 
before that"? He says, "Well, I was ordained that year". "Anything 
happen in your ordination year"? I ask. "There was one little thing, 
the final examination in theology; I failed it. It was a bit of a 
disappointment, but I've gotten over it. The bishop was planning to 
send me to Rome, to eventually teach in the seminary. 

I rather liked the idea, but since I failed the examination, he changed 
his mind and sent me to this parish. Actually, there was some 
injustice because. . . Now he's getting worked up; there's anger there 
that he hasn't gotten over. He's got to work through that 
disappointment. It's useless to preach him a sermon. It's useless to 
give him an idea. We've got to get him to face his anger and 
disappointment and to get some insight into all of that. When he's 
able to work through that, he's back into life again. If I gave him an 
exhortation and told him how hard his married brothers and sisters 
work, that would merely make him feel guilty. He doesn't have the 
self-insight which is going to heal him. So that's the first thing. 

There's another great task, understanding. Did you really think this 
was going to make you happy? You just assumed it was going to 
make you happy. Why did you want to teach in the seminary? 
Because you wanted to be happy. You thought that being a professor, 
having a certain status and prestige, would make you happy. Would 
it? Understanding is called for there. In making the distinction 
between "I" and "me", it's a great help to disidentify what is going 
on. Let me give you an example of this kind of thing. A young J esuit 
priest comes to see me; he's a lovely, extraordinary, gifted, talented, 
charming, lovable man - everything. But he had a strange kind of a 
kink. With employees he was a terror. He was even known to assault 
them. It nearly became a matter for the police. 

Whenever he was put in charge of the grounds, the school, or 
whatever, this problem would keep coming up. He made a thirty-day 
retreat in what we Jesuits call a Tertianship, where he meditated day 
after day on the patience and love of J esus for those who were 
underprivileged, etc. But I knew it wasn't going to have an effect. 
Anyway, he went home and was better for about three or four 
months. (Somebody said about most retreats that we begin them in 
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and we 

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end as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world 
without end. Amen.) 

After that, he was right back to square one. So he came to see me. I 
was very busy at the time. Though he had come from another city in 
India, I couldn't see him. So I said, "I'm going for my evening walk; if 
you want to come with me on the walk, that's fine, but I don't have 
any other time". So we went for a walk. I 'd known him before, and as 
we were walking, I had a strange feeling. When I get one of these 
strange feelings, I generally check it out with the person in question. 
So I said, "I have a strange feeling that you're hiding something from 
me. Are you"? He became indignant. He said, "What do you mean, 

Do you think I 'd undertake this long journey and come to ask for your 
time in order to hide something"? I said, "Well, it's a funny feeling I 
had, that's all; I thought I should check with you". We walked on. We 
have a lake not far from where I live. I remember the scene 
distinctly. He said, "Could we sit down somewhere"? I said, "O.K". We 
sat on a low wall that skirts the lake. He said, "You're right. I am 
hiding something from you". And with that he burst into tears. 

He said, "I 'm going to tell you something I 've never said to anybody 
since I became a J esuit. My father died when I was very young, and 
my mother became a servant. Her job was to clean lavatories and 
toilets and bathrooms, and sometimes she'd work for sixteen hours a 
day to get the wherewithal to support us. I 'm so ashamed of that that 
I've hidden it from everybody and I continue taking revenge, 
irrationally, on her and the whole servant class". The feeling got 
transferred. No one could make sense of why this charming man was 
doing this, but the moment he saw that, there was never any trouble 
again, never. He was all right. 


Meditating on and imitating externally the behavior of Jesus is no 
help. It's not a question of imitating Christ, it's a question of 
becoming what Jesus was. It's a question of becoming Christ, 
becoming aware, understanding what's going on within you. All the 
other methods we use for self change could be compared to pushing 

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a car. Let's suppose you have to travel to a distant city. The car 
breal<s down along the way. Well, too bad; the car's broken down. So 
we roll up our sleeves and begin to push the car. And we push and 
push and push and push, till we get to the distant city. "Well", we 
say, "we made it". And then we push the car all the way to another 

You say, "We got there, didn't we"? But do you call this life? You 
know what you need? You need an expert, you need a mechanic to 
lift the hood and change the spark plug. Turn the ignition key and the 
car moves. You need the expert -- you need understanding, insight, 
awareness you don't need pushing. You don't need effort. That's why 
people are so tired, so weary. You and I were trained to be 
dissatisfied with ourselves. That's where the evil comes from 
psychologically. We're always dissatisfied, we're always discontented, 
we're always pushing. Go on, put out more effort, more and more 
effort. But there's always that conflict inside; there's very little 


One red-letter day in my life occurred in India. It was a great day, 
really, the day after I was ordained. I sat in a confessional. We had a 
very saintly J esuit priest in our parish, a Spaniard, whom I had 
known even before I went to the Jesuit novitiate. The day before I 
left for the novitiate, I thought I'd better make a clean breast of 
everything so that when I got to the novitiate I 'd be nice and clean 
and wouldn't have to tell the novice master anything. 

This old Spanish priest would have crowds of people lined up at his 
confessional; he had a violet-colored handkerchief which he covered 
his eyes with, and he'd mumble something and give you a penance 
and send you away. He'd only met me a couple of times, but he'd call 
me Antonie. So I stood in line, and when my turn came, I tried 
changing my voice as I made my confession. He listened to me 
patiently, gave me my penance, absolved me, and then said, 
"Antonie, when are you going to the novitiate"? 

Well, anyway, I went to this parish the day after my ordination. And 

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the old priest says to me, "Do you want to hear confessions"? I said, 
"All right". He said, "Go and sit in my confessional". I thought, "My, 
I'm a holy man. I'm going to sit in his confessional". I heard 
confessions for three hours. It was Palm Sunday and we had the 
Easter crowd coming in. I came out depressed, not from what I had 
heard, because I had been led to expect that, and, having some 
inkling of what was going on in my own heart, I was shocked by 
nothing. You know what depressed me? 

The realization that I was giving them these little pious platitudes 
"Now pray to the Blessed Mother, she loves you", and "Remember 
that God is on your side". Were these pious platitudes any cure for 
cancer? And this is a cancer I'm dealing with, the lack of awareness 
and reality. So I swore a mighty oath to myself that day "I'll learn, I'll 
learn, so it will not be said of me when it is all over, 'Father, what you 
said to me was absolutely true but totally useless.'" 

Awareness, insight. When you become an expert (and you'll soon 
become an expert) you don't need to take a course in psychology. As 
you begin to observe yourself, to watch yourself, to pick up those 
negative feelings, you'll find your own way of explaining it. And you'll 
notice the change. But then you'll have to deal with the big villain, 
and that villain is self-condemnation, self-hatred, self-dissatisfaction. 


Let's talk more about effortlessness in change. I thought of a nice 
image for that, a sailboat. When a sailboat has a mighty wind in its 
sail, it glides along so effortlessly that the boatman has nothing to do 
but steer. He makes no effort; he doesn't push the boat. That's an 
image of what happens when change comes about through 
awareness, through understanding. 

I was going through some of my notes and I found some quotations 
that go well with what I've been saying. Listen to this one: "There is 
nothing so cruel as nature. In the whole universe there is no escape 
from it, and yet it is not nature that does the injury, but the person's 
own heart." Does that make sense? It isn't nature that does the 
injury, but the person's own heart. There's the story of Paddy, who 
fell off the scaffolding and got a good bump. They asked, "Did the fall 

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hurt you, Paddy?" And he said, "No, it was tiie stop tiiat iiurt, not the 
fall." When you cut water, the water doesn't get hurt; when you cut 
something solid, it breaks. You've got solid attitudes inside you; 
you've got solid illusions inside you; that's what bumps against 
nature, that's where you get hurt, that's where the pain comes from. 

Here's a lovely one: It's from an Oriental sage, though I don't 
remember which one. As with the Bible the author doesn't matter. 
What is said is what matters. "If the eye is unobstructed, it results in 
sight; if the ear is unobstructed, the result is hearing; if the nose is 
unobstructed, the result is a sense of smell; if the mouth is 
unobstructed, the result is a sense of taste; if the mind is 
unobstructed, the result is wisdom." 

Wisdom occurs when you drop barriers you have erected through 
your concepts and conditioning. Wisdom is not something acquired; 
wisdom is not experience; wisdom is not applying yesterday's 
illusions to today's problems. As somebody said to me while I was 
studying for my degree in psychology in Chicago years ago, 
"Frequently, in the life of a priest, fifty years' experience is one year's 
experience repeated fifty times." You get the same solutions to fall 
back on: This is the way to deal with the alcoholic; this is the way to 
deal with priests; this is the way to deal with sisters; this is the way 
to deal with a divorcee. 

But that isn't wisdom. Wisdom is to be sensitive to this situation, to 
this person, uninfluenced by any carryover from the past, without 
residue from the experience of the past. This is quite unlike what 
most people are accustomed to thinking. I would add another 
sentence to the ones I 've read: "If the heart is unobstructed, the 
result is love." I've been talking a great deal about love these days 
even though I told you there's nothing that can be said, really, about 
love. We can only speak of non-love. We can only speak of 
addictions. But of love itself nothing may be said explicitly. 

Next Section 06 
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NewTriLite List 

Cosmic Cookies List 

Cosmic Cool<ies 


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Wisdom from Anthony de 


... Articles ... Essays ... Stories ... Sayings ... 




How would I describe love? I decided to give you one of the 
meditations I 'm writing in a new book of mine. I 'II read it to you 
slowly; you meditate on it as we go along, because I've got it put 
down in short form here so I can get it done in three or four minutes; 
otherwise it would take me half an hour. It's a comment on a gospel 
sentence. I had been thinking of another reflection, from Plato: "One 
cannot make a slave of a free person, for a free person is free even in 
prison". It's like another gospel sentence: "If a person makes you go 
one mile, go two". 

You may think you've made a slave out of me by putting a load on 
my back, but you haven't. If a person is trying to change external 
reality by being out of prison in order to be free, he is a prisoner 
indeed. Freedom lies not in external circumstances; freedom resides 
in the heart. When you have attained wisdom, who can enslave you? 
Anyhow, listen to the gospel sentence I had in mind earlier: "He sent 
the people away, and after doing that he went up to the mountain to 
pray alone. It grew late and he was there all by himself". That s what 
love is all about. Has it ever occurred to you that you can only love 
when you are alone? What does it mean to love? It means to see a 
person, a situation, a thing as it really is, not as you imagine it to be. 

And to give it the response it deserves. You can hardly be said to love 

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what you do not even see. And what prevents us from seeing? Our 
conditioning. Our concepts, our categories, our prejudices, our 
projections, the labels that we have drawn from our cultures and our 
past experiences. Seeing is the most arduous thing that a human can 
undertake, for it calls for a disciplined, alert mind. But most people 
would much rather lapse into mental laziness than take the trouble to 
see each person, each thing in its present moment of freshness. 


If you wish to understand control, think of a little child that is given a 
taste for drugs. As the drugs penetrate the body of the child, it 
becomes addicted; its whole being cries out for the drug. To be 
without the drug is so unbearable a torment that it seems preferable 
to die. Think of that image - the body has gotten addicted to the 
drug. Now this is exactly what your society did to you when you were 
born. You were not allowed to enjoy the solid, nutritious food of life 
namely, work, play, fun, laughter, the company of people, the 
pleasures of the senses and the mind. You were given a taste for the 
drug called approval, appreciation, attention. 

I'm going to quote a great man here, a man named A. S. Neill. He is 
the author of Summerhill. Neill says that the sign of a sick child is 
that he is always hovering around his parents; he is interested in 
persons. The healthy child has no interest in persons, he is interested 
in things. When a child is sure of his mother's love, he forgets his 
mother; he goes out to explore the world; he is curious. 

He looks for a frog to put in his mouth - that kind of thing. When a 
child is hovering around his mother, it's a bad sign; he's insecure. 
Maybe his mother has been trying to suck love out of him, not give 
him all the freedom and assurance he wants. His mother's always 
been threatening in many subtle ways to abandon him. So we were 
given a taste of various drug addictions: approval, attention, success, 
making it to the top, prestige, getting your name in the paper, power, 
being the boss. We were given a taste of things like being the captain 
of the team, leading the band, etc. Having a taste for these drugs, we 
became addicted and began to dread losing them. Recall the lack of 
control you felt, the terror at the prospect of failure or of making 

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mistakes, at the prospect of criticism by others. 
So you became cravenly dependent on others and you lost your 
freedom. Others now have the power to mal<e you happy or 
miserable. You crave your drugs, but as much as you hate the 
suffering that this involves, you find yourself completely helpless. 
There is never a minute when, consciously or unconsciously, you are 
not aware of or attuned to the reactions of others, marching to the 
beat of their drums. 

A nice definition of an awakened person: a person who no longer 
marches to the drums of society, a person who dances to the tune of 
the music that springs up from within. When you are ignored or 
disapproved of, you experience a loneliness so unbearable that you 
crawl back to people and beg for the comforting drug called support 
and encouragement' reassurance. 

To live with people in this state involves a never-ending tension. "Hell 
is other people", said Sartre. How true. When you are in this state of 
dependency, you always have to be on your best behavior, you can 
never let your hair down; you've got to live up to expectations. To be 
with people is to live in tension. To be without them brings the agony 
of loneliness, because you miss them. 

You have lost your capacity to see them exactly as they are and to 
respond to them accurately, because your perception of them is 
clouded by the need to get your drugs. You see them insofar as they 
are a support for getting your drug or a threat to have your drug 
removed. You're always looking at people, consciously or 
unconsciously, through these eyes. Will I get what I want from them, 
will I not get what I want from them? And if they can neither support 
nor threaten my drug, I'm not interested in them. That's a horrible 
thing to say, but I wonder if there's anyone here of whom this cannot 
be said. 


Now you need awareness and you need nourishment. You need good, 
healthy nourishment. Learn to enjoy the solid food of life. Good food, 
good wine, good water. Taste them. Lose your mind and come to 
your senses. That's good, healthy nourishment. The pleasures of the 

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senses and the pleasures of the mind. Good reading, when you enjoy 
a good bool<. 

Or a really good discussion, or thinking. It's marvelous. 
Unfortunately, people have gone crazy, and they're getting more and 
more addicted because they do not know how to enjoy the lovely 
things of life. So they're going in for greater and greater artificial 

In the 1970s, President Carter appealed to the American people to go 
in for austerity. I thought to myself He shouldn't tell them to be 
austere, he should really tell them to enjoy things. Most of them have 
lost their capacity for enjoyment. I really believe that most people in 
affluent countries have lost that capacity. They've got to have more 
and more expensive gadgets; they can't enjoy the simple things of 

Then I walk into places where they have all the most marvelous 
music, and you get these records at a discount, they're all stacked 
up, but I never hear anybody listening to them -- no time, no time, 
no time. They're guilty, no time to enjoy life. They're overworked, go, 
go, go. 

If you really enjoy life and the simple pleasures of the senses, you'd 
be amazed. You'd develop that extraordinary discipline of the animal. 
An animal will never overeat. Left in its natural habitat, it will never 
be overweight. It will never drink or eat anything that is not good for 
its health. You never find an animal smoking. It always exercises as 
much as it needs - watch your cat after it's had its breakfast, look 
how it relaxes. 

And see how it springs into action, look at the suppleness of its limbs 
and the aliveness of its body. We've lost that. We're lost in our 
minds, in our ideas and ideals and so on, and its always go, go, go. 
And we've got an inner self-conflict which animals don't have. And 
we're always condemning ourselves and making ourselves feel guilty. 
You know what I'm talking about. I could have said of myself what 
one J esuit friend said to me some years ago Take that plate of sweets 
away, because in front of a plate of sweets or chocolates, I lose my 

That was true of me, too; I lost my freedom in front of all kinds of 
things, but no more! I'm satisfied with very little and I enjoy it 
intensely. When you have enjoyed something intensely, you need 

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very little. It's like people who are busy planning their vacation; they 
spend months planning it, and they get to the spot, and they're all 
anxious about their reservations for flying back. But they're taking 
pictures all right, and later they'll show you pictures in an album, of 
places they never saw but only photographed. That's a symbol of 
modem life. 

I cannot warn you enough about this kind of asceticism. Slow down 
and taste and smell and hear, and let your senses come alive. If you 
want a royal road to mysticism, sit down quietly and listen to all the 
sounds around you. You do not focus on any one sound; you try to 
hear them all. Oh, you'll see the miracles that happen to you when 
your senses come unclogged. That is extremely important for the 
process of change. 


I want to give you a taste of the difference between analysis and 
awareness, or information on the one hand and insight on the other. 
Information is not insight, analysis is not awareness, knowledge is 
not awareness. Suppose I walked in here with a snake crawling up 
my arm, and I said to you, "Do you see the snake crawling up my 
arm? I've just checked in an encyclopedia before coming to this 
session and I found out that this snake is known as a Russell's viper. 
If it bit me, I would die inside half a minute. Would you kindly 
suggest ways and means by which I could get rid of this creature that 
is crawling up my arm"? Who talks like this? I have information, but 
I've got no awareness. 

Or say I 'm destroying myself with alcohol. "Kindly describe ways and 
means by which I could get rid of this addiction". A person who would 
say that has no awareness. He knows he's destroying himself, but he 
is not aware of it. If he were aware of it, the addiction would drop 
that minute. If I were aware of what the snake was, I wouldn't brush 
it off my arm; it would get brushed off through me. That's what I 'm 
talking about, that's the change I'm talking about. 

You don't change yourself; it's not me changing me. Change takes 
place through you, in you. That's about the most adequate way I can 
express it. You see change take place in you, through you; in your 

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awareness, it happens. You don't do it. When you're doing it, it's a 
bad sign; it won't last. And if it does last, God have mercy on the 
people you're living with, because you're going to be very rigid. 
People who are converted on the basis of self- hatred and self- 
dissatisfaction are impossible to live with. Somebody said, "If you 
want to be a martyr, marry a saint". But in awareness, you keep your 
softness, your subtleness, your gentleness, your openness, your 
flexibility, and you don't push, change occurs. 

I remember a priest in Chicago when I was studying psychology there 
telling us, "You know, I had all the information I needed; I knew that 
alcohol was killing me, and, believe me, nothing changes an alcoholic 
-- not even the love of his wife or his kids. He does love them but it 
doesn't change him. I discovered one thing that changed me. I was 
lying in a gutter one day under a slight drizzle. I opened my eyes and 
I saw that this was killing me. I saw it and I never had the desire to 
touch a drop after that. As a matter of fact, I 've even drunk a bit 
since then, but never enough to damage me. I couldn't do it and still 
cannot do it". That's what I'm talking about awareness. Not 
information, but awareness. 

A friend of mine who was given to excessive smoking said, "You 
know, there are all kinds of jokes about smoking. They tell us that 
tobacco kills people, but look at the ancient Egyptians; they're all 
dead and none of them smoked". Well, one day he was having 
trouble with his lungs, so he went to our cancer research institute in 
Bombay. The doctor said, "Father, you've got two patches on your 
lungs. It could be cancer, so you'll have to come back next month". 
He never touched another cigarette after that. Before, he knew it 
would kill him; now, he was aware it could kill him. That's the 

The founder of my religious order, St. Ignatius, has a nice expression 
for that. He calls it tasting and feeling the truth -- not knowing it, but 
tasting and feeling it, getting a feel for it. When you get a feel for it 
you change. When you know it in your head, you don't. 


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I 've often said to people that the way to really live is to die. The 
passport to living is to imagine yourself in your grave. Imagine that 
you're lying in your coffin. Any posture you like. In India we put them 
in cross-legged. Sometimes they're carried that way to the burning 
ground. Sometimes, though, they're lying flat. So imagine you're 
lying flat and you're dead. Now look at your problems from that 
viewpoint. Changes everything, doesn't it? 

What a lovely, lovely meditation. Do it every day if you have the 
time. It's unbelievable, but you'll come alive. I have a meditation 
about that in a book of mine, Wellsprings. You see the body 
decomposing, then bones, then dust. Every time I talk about this, 
people say, "How disgusting"! But what's so disgusting about it? It's 
reality, for heaven's sake. But many of you don't want to see reality. 
You don't want to think of death. People don't live, most of you, you 
don't live, you're just keeping the body alive. That's not life. You're 
not living until it doesn't matter a tinker's damn to you whether you 
live or die. 

At that point you live. When you're ready to lose your life, you live it. 
But if you're protecting your life, you're dead. If you're sitting up 
there in the attic and I say to you, "Come on down"! and you say, 
"Oh no, I've read about people going down stairs. They slip and they 
break their necks; it's too dangerous". Or I can't get you to cross the 
street because you say, "You know how many people get run over 
when they cross the street"? If I can't get you to cross a street, how 
can I get you to cross a continent? 

And if I can't get you to peep out of your little narrow beliefs and 
convictions and look at another world, you're dead, you're completely 
dead; life has passed you by. You're sitting in your little prison, where 
you're frightened; you're going to lose your God, your religion, your 
friends, all kinds of things. Life is for the gambler, it really is. That's 
what J esus was saying. Are you ready to risk it? Do you know when 
you're ready to risk it? When you've discovered that, when you know 
that this thing that people call life is not really life. People mistakenly 
think that living is keeping the body alive. 

So love the thought of death, love it. Go back to it again and again. 
Think of the loveliness of that corpse, of that skeleton, of those bones 
crumbling till there's only a handful of dust. From there on, what a 
relief, what a relief. Some of you probably don't know what I 'm 
talking about at this point; you're too frightened to think of it. But it's 
such a relief when you can look back on life from that perspective. 

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Or visit a graveyard. It's an enormously purifying and beautiful 
experience. You look at this name and you say, "Gee, he lived so 
many years ago, two centuries ago; he must have had all the 
problems that I have, must have had lots of sleepless nights. How 
crazy, we live for such a short time. An Italian poet said, "We live in a 
flash of light; evening comes and it is night forever". It's only a flash 
and we waste it. 

We waste it with our anxiety, our worries, our concerns, our burdens. 
Now, as you make that meditation, you can just end up with 
information; but you may end up with awareness. And in that 
moment of awareness, you are new. At least as long as it lasts. Then 
you'll know the difference between information and awareness. 

An astronomer friend was recently telling me some of the 
fundamental things about astronomy. I did not know, until he told 
me, that when you see the sun, you're seeing it where it was eight 
and a half minutes ago, not where it is now. Because it takes a ray of 
the sun eight and a half minutes to get to us. So you're not seeing it 
where it is; it's now somewhere else. Stars, too, have been sending 
light to us for hundreds of thousands of years. 

So when we're looking at them, they may not be where we're seeing 
them; they may be somewhere else. He said that, if we imagine a 
galaxy, a whole universe, this earth of ours would be lost toward the 
tail end of the Milky Way; not even in the center. And every one of 
the stars is a sun and some suns are so big that they could contain 
the sun and the earth and the distance between them. At a 
conservative estimate, there are one hundred million galaxies! The 
universe, as we know it, is expanding at the rate of two million miles 
a second. 

I was fascinated listening to all of this, and when I came out of the 
restaurant where we were eating, I looked up there and I had a 
different feel, a different perspective on life. That's awareness. So 
you can pick all this up as cold fact (and that's information), or 
suddenly you get another perspective on life - what are we, what's 
this universe, what's human life? When you get that feel, that's what 
I mean when I speak of awareness. 

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If we really dropped illusions for what they can give us or deprive us 
of, we would be alert. The consequence of not doing this is terrifying 
and unescapable. We lose our capacity to love. If you wish to love, 
you must learn to see again. And if you wish to see, you must learn 
to give up your drug. It's as simple as that. Give up your 
dependency. Tear away the tentacles of society that have enveloped 
and suffocated your being. You must drop them. 

Externally, everything will go on as before, but though you will 
continue to be in the world, you will no longer be of it. I n your heart, 
you will now be free at last, if utterly alone. Your dependence on your 
drug will die. You don't have to go to the desert; you're right in the 
middle of people; you're enjoying them immensely. But they no 
longer have the power to make you happy or miserable. That's what 
aloneness means. In this solitude your dependence dies. The capacity 
to love is born. One no longer sees others as means of satisfying 
one's addiction. 

Only someone who has attempted this knows the terrors of the 
process. It's like inviting yourself to die. It's like asking the poor drug 
addict to give up the only happiness he has ever known. How to 
replace it with the taste of bread and fruit and the clean taste of the 
morning air, the sweetness of the water of the mountain stream? 
While he is struggling with his withdrawal symptoms and the 
emptiness he experiences within himself now that his drug is gone, 
nothing can fill the emptiness except his drug. Can you imagine a life 
in which you refuse to enjoy or take pleasure in a single word of 
appreciation or to rest your head on anyone's shoulder for support? 
Think of a life in which you depend on no one emotionally, so that no 
one has the power to make you happy or miserable anymore. 

You refuse to need any particular person or to be special to anyone or 
to call anyone your own. The birds of the air have their nests and the 
foxes their holes, but you will have nowhere to rest your head in your 
journey through life. If you ever get to this state, you will at last 
know what it means to see with a vision that is clear and unclouded 
by fear or desire. Every word there is measured. To see at last with a 
vision that is clear and unclouded by fear or desire. You will know 
what it means to love. But to come to the land of love, you must pass 
through the pains of death, for to love persons means to die to the 

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need for persons, and to be utterly alone. 

How would you ever get there? By a ceaseless awareness, by the 
infinite patience and compassion you would have for a drug addict. 
By developing a taste for the good things in life to counter the 
craving for your drug. What good things? The love of work which you 
enjoy doing for the love of itself; the love of laughter and intimacy 
with people to whom you do not cling and on whom you do not 
depend emotionally but whose company you enjoy. It will also help if 
you take on activities that you can do with your whole being, 
activities that you so love to do that while you're engaged in them 
success, recognition, and approval simply do not mean a thing to 
you. It will help, too, if you return to nature. Send the crowds away, 
go up to the mountains, and silently commune with trees and flowers 
and animals and birds, with sea and clouds and sky and stars. 

I've told you what a spiritual exercise it is to gaze at things, to be 
aware of things around you. Hopefully, the words will drop, the 
concepts will drop, and you will see, you will make contact with 
reality. That is the cure for loneliness. Generally, we seek to cure our 
loneliness through emotional dependence on people, through 
gregariousness and noise. That is no cure. Get back to things, get 
back to nature, go up in the mountains. Then you will know that your 
heart has brought you to the vast desert of solitude, there is no one 
there at your side, absolutely no one. 

At first this will seem unbearable. But it is only because you are 
unaccustomed to aloneness. If you manage to stay there for a while, 
the desert will suddenly blossom into love. Your heart will burst into 
song. And it will be springtime forever; the drug will be out; you're 
free. Then you will understand what freedom is, what love is, what 
happiness is, what reality is, what truth is, what God is. You will see, 
you will know beyond concepts and conditioning, addictions and 
attachments. Does that make sense? 

Let me end this with a lovely story. There was a man who invented 
the art of making fire. He took his tools and went to a tribe in the 
north, where it was very cold, bitterly cold. He taught the people 
there to make fire. The people were very interested. He showed them 
the uses to which they could put fire - they could cook, could keep 
themselves warm, etc. They were so grateful that they had learned 
the art of making fire. But before they could express their gratitude 
to the man, he disappeared. He wasn't concerned with getting their 
recognition or gratitude; he was concerned about their well being. He 

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went to another tribe, where he again began to show them the value 
of his invention. 

People were interested there, too, a bit too interested for the peace 
of mind of their priests, who began to notice that this man was 
drawing crowds and they were losing their popularity. So they 
decided to do away with him. They poisoned him, crucified him, put it 
any way you like. But they were afraid now that the people might 
turn against them, so they were very wise, even wily. Do you know 
what they did? They had a portrait of the man made and mounted it 
on the main altar of the temple. The instruments for making fire were 
placed in front of the portrait, and the people were taught to revere 
the portrait and to pay reverence to the instruments of fire, which 
they dutifully did for centuries. The veneration and the worship went 
on, but there was no fire. 

Where's the fire? Where's the love? Where's the drug uprooted from 
your system? Where's the freedom? This is what spirituality is all 
about. Tragically, we tend to lose sight of this, don't we? This is what 
Jesus Christ is all about. But we overemphasized the "Lord, Lord", 
didn't we? Where's the fire? And if worship isn't leading to the fire, if 
adoration isn't leading to love, if the liturgy isn't leading to a clearer 
perception of reality, if God isn't leading to life, of what use is religion 
except to create more division, more fanaticism, more antagonism? It 
is not from lack of religion in the ordinary sense of the word that the 
world is suffering, it is from lack of love, lack of awareness. 

And love is generated through awareness and through no other way, 
no other way. Understand the obstructions you are putting in the way 
of love, freedom, and happiness and they will drop. Turn on the light 
of awareness and the darkness will disappear. Happiness is not 
something you acquire; love is not something you produce; love is 
not something that you have; love is something that has you. You do 
not have the wind, the stars, and the rain. You don't possess these 
things; you surrender to them. And surrender occurs when you are 
aware of your illusions, when you are aware of your addictions, when 
you are aware of your desires and fears. As I told you earlier, first, 
psychological insight is a great help, not analysis, however; analysis 
is paralysis. Insight is not necessarily analysis. 

One of your great American therapists put it very well "It's the 'Aha' 
experience that counts". Merely analyzing gives no help; it just gives 
information. But if you could produce the "Aha" experience, that's 
insight. That is change. Second, the understanding of your addiction 

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is important. You need time. Alas, so much time that is given to 
worship and singing praise and singing songs could so fruitfully be 
employed in self understanding. Community is not produced by joint 
liturgical celebrations. You know deep down in your heart, and so do 
I, that such celebrations only serve to paper over differences. 
Community is created by understanding the blocks that we put in the 
way of community, by understanding the conflicts that arise from our 
fears and our desires. 

At that point community arises. We must always beware of making 
worship just another distraction from the important business of living. 
And living doesn't mean working in government, or being a big 
businessman, or performing great acts of charity. That isn't living. 
Living is to have dropped all the impediments and to live in the 
present moment with freshness. "The birds of the air . . . they neither 
toil nor spin" -- that is living. I began by saying that people are 
asleep, dead. Dead people running governments, dead people 
running big business, dead people educating others; come alive! 
Worship must help this, or else it's useless. And increasingly - you 
know this and so do I - we're losing the youth everywhere. 

They hate us; they're not interested in having more fears and more 
guilts laid on them. They're not interested in more sermons and 
exhortations. But they are interested in learning about love. How can 
I be happy? How can I live? How can I taste these marvelous things 
that the mystics speak of? So that's the second thing - 
understanding. Third, don't identify. Somebody asked me as I was 
coming here today, "Do you ever feel low"? Boy, do I feel low every 
now and then. I get my attacks. But they don't last, they really don't. 
What do I do? First step I don't identify. Here comes a low feeling. 
Instead of getting tense about it, instead of getting irritated with 
myself about it, I understand I'm feeling depressed, disappointed, or 
whatever. Second step I admit the feeling is in me, not in the other 
person, e.g., in the person who didn't write me a letter, not in the 
exterior world; it's in me. 

Because as long as I think it's outside me, I feel justified in holding 
on to my feelings. I can't say everybody would feel this way; in fact, 
only idiotic people would feel this way, only sleeping people. Third 
step I don't identify with the feeling. "I " is not that feeling. "I " am not 
lonely, "I" am not depressed, "I" am not disappointed. 
Disappointment is there, one watches it. You'd be amazed how 
quickly it glides away. Anything you're aware of keeps changing; 
clouds keep moving. As you do this, you also get all kinds of insights 

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into why clouds were coming in tine first place. 

I've got a lovely quote here, a few sentences that I would write in 
gold. I picked them up from A. S. Neil's book Summerhill. I must give 
you the background. You probably know that Neill was in education 
for forty years. He developed a kind of maverick school. He took in 
boys and girls and just let them be free. You want to learn to read 
and write, fine; you don't want to learn to read and write, fine. You 
can do anything you want with your life, provided you don't interfere 
with the freedom of someone else. Don't interfere with someone 
else's freedom; otherwise you're free. He says that the worst ones 
came to him from convent school. This was in the old days, of course. 

He said it took them about six months to get over all the anger and 
the resentment that they had repressed. They'd be rebelling for six 
months, fighting the system. The worst was a girl who would take a 
bicycle and ride into town, avoiding class, avoiding school, avoiding 
everything. But once they got over their rebellion, everybody wanted 
to learn; they even began protesting, "Why don't we have class 
today"? But they would only take what they were interested in. 
They'd be transformed. In the beginning parents were frightened to 
send their children to this school; they said, "How can you educate 
them if you don't discipline them? You've got to teach them, guide 

What was the secret of Neill's success? He'd get the worst children, 
the ones everybody else had despaired of, and within six months 
they'd all be transformed. Listen to what he said - extraordinary 
words, holy words. "Every child has a god in him. Our attempts to 
mold the child will turn the god into a devil. Children come to my 
school, little devils, hating the world, destructive, unmannerly, lying, 
thieving, bad tempered. In six months they are happy, healthy 
children who do no evil". These are amazing words coming from a 
man whose school in Britain is regularly inspected by people from the 
Ministry of Education, by any headmaster or headmistress or anyone 
who would care to go there. Amazing. It was his charisma. 

You don't do this kind of thing from a blueprint; you've got to be a 
special kind of person. In some of his lectures to headmasters and 
headmistresses he says, "Come to Summerhill and you'll find that all 
the fruit trees are laden with fruit; nobody's taking the fruits off the 
trees; there's no desire to attack authority; they're well fed and 
there's no resentment and anger. Come to Summerhill and you'll 
never find a handicapped child with a nickname (you know how cruel 

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! Gerardus' Grist ! Wisdom from Anthony de Mello ! 

kids can be when someone stammers). You'll never find anyone 
needling a stammerer, never. There's no violence in those children, 
because no one is practicing violence on them, that's why". Listen to 
these words of revelation, sacred words. 

We have people in the world like this. No matter what scholars and 
priests and theologians tell you, there are and have been people who 
have no quarrels, no jealousies, no conflicts, no wars, no enmities, 
none! They exist in my country, or, sad to say, they existed until 
relatively recently. I 've had J esuit friends go out to live and work 
among people who, they assured me, were incapable of stealing or 
lying. One Sister said to me that when she went to the northeast of 
India to work among some tribes there, the people would lock up 
nothing. Nothing was ever stolen and they never told lies until the 
Indian government and missionaries showed up. 

Every child has a god in him; our attempts to mold the child will turn 
the god into a devil. 

There's a lovely Italian film directed by Federico Fellini, 8 1/2 In one 
scene there's a Christian Brother going out on a picnic or excursion 
with a group of eight to ten year old boys. They're on a beach, 
moving right on ahead while the Brother brings up the rear with three 
or four of them around him. They come across an older woman who's 
a whore, and they say to her, "Hi", and she says, "Hi". And they say, 
"Who are you"? And she says, "I'm a prostitute". They don't know 
what that is but they pretend to. One of the boys, who seems a bit 
more knowing than the others, says, "A prostitute is a woman who 
does certain things if you pay her". They ask, "Would she do those 
things if we paid her"? "Why not"? the answer came. 

So they take up a collection and give her the money, saying, "Would 
you do certain things now that we've given you the money"? She 
answers, "Sure, kids, what do you want me to do"? The only thing 
that occurs to the kids is for her to take her clothes off. So she does. 
Well, they look at her; they've never seen a woman naked before. 
They don't know what else to do, so they say, "Would you dance"? 
She says, "Sure". So they all gather round singing and clapping; the 
whore is moving her behind and they're enjoying themselves 
immensely. The Brother sees all this. He runs down the beach and 
yells at the woman. He gets her to put her clothes on, and the 
narrator says, "At that moment, the children were spoiled; until then 
they were innocent, beautiful". 

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! Gerardus' Grist ! Wisdom from Anthony de Mello ! 

This is not an unusual problem. I know a rather conservative 
missionary in I ndia' a J esuit. He came to a workshop of mine. As I 
developed this theme over two days, he suffered. He came to me the 
second night and said, "Tony, I can't explain to you how much I'm 
suffering listening to you". I said, "Why, Stan"? He said, "You're 
reviving within me a question that I suppressed for twenty five years, 
a horrible question. Again and again I asked myself: Have I not 
spoiled my people by making them Christian"? This Jesuit was not 
one of your liberals, he was an orthodox, devout, pious, conservative 
man. But he felt he spoiled a happy, loving, simple, guileless people 
by making them Christian. 

American missionaries who went to the South Sea Islands with their 
wives were horrified to see women coming bare breasted to church. 
The wives insisted that the women should be more decently dressed. 
So the missionaries gave them shirts to wear. The following Sunday 
the women came wearing their shirts but with two big holes cut out 
for comfort' for ventilation. They were right; the missionaries were 

Now . . . back to Neill. He says, "And I am no genius, I am merely a 
man who refuses to guide the steps of children". But what, then, of 
original sin? Neill says that every child has a god in him; our attempts 
to mold him will turn the god into a devil. He lets children form their 
own values, and the values are invariably good and social. Can you 
believe that? When a child feels loved (which means when a child 
feels you're on his side), he's O.K. The child doesn't experience 
violence anymore. No fear, so no violence. The child begins to treat 
others the way he has been treated. 

You've got to read that book. It's a holy book, it really is. Read it; it 
revolutionized my life and my dealings with people. I began to see 
miracles. I began to see the self dissatisfaction that had been 
ingrained in me, the competition, the comparisons, the that's 
notgoodenough, etc. You might object that if they hadn't pushed me, 
I wouldn't have become what I am. Did I need all that pushing? And 
anyway, who wants to be what I am? I want to be happy, I want to 
be holy, I want to be loving, I want to be at peace, I want to be free, 
I want to be human. 

Do you know where wars come from? They come from projecting 
outside of us the conflict that is inside. Show me an individual in 
whom there is no inner self conflict and I 'II show you an individual in 
whom there is no violence. There will be effective, even hard, action 

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! Gerardus' Grist ! Wisdom from Anthony de Mello ! 

in him, but no hatred. When he acts, he acts as a surgeon acts; when 
he acts, he acts as a loving teacher acts with mentally retarded 
children. You don't blame them, you understand; but you swing into 
action. On the other hand, when you swing into action with your own 
hatred and your own violence un-addressed, you've compounded the 
error. You've tried to put fire out with more fire. You've tried to deal 
with a flood by adding water to it. I repeat what Neill said "Every 
child has a god in him. 

Our attempts to mold the child will turn the god into a devil. Children 
come to my school, little devils, hating the world, destructive, 
unmannerly, lying, thieving, bad tempered. In six months they are 
happy, healthy children who do no evil. And I am no genius, I am 
merely a man who refuses to guide the steps of children. I let them 
form their own values and the values are invariably good and social. 
The religion that makes people good makes people bad, but the 
religion known as freedom makes all people good, for it destroys the 
inner conflict [I've added the word "inner"] that makes people devils". 

Neill also says, "The first thing I do when a child comes to Summerhill 
is destroy its conscience". I assume you know what he's talking 
about, because I know what he's talking about. You don't need 
conscience when you have consciousness; you don't need conscience 
when you have sensitivity. You're not violent, you're not fearful. You 
probably think this is an unattainable ideal. Well, read that book. I 
have run into individuals, here and there, who suddenly stumble upon 
this truth: The root of evil is within you. As you begin to understand 
this, you stop making demands on yourself, you stop having 
expectations of yourself, you stop pushing yourself and you 
understand. Nourish yourself on wholesome food, good wholesome 
food. I 'm not talking about actual food, I 'm talking about sunsets, 
about nature, about a good movie, about a good book, about 
enjoyable work, about good company, and hopefully you will break 
your addictions to those other feelings. 

What kind of feeling comes upon you when you're in touch with 
nature, or when you're absorbed in work that you love? Or when 
you're really conversing with someone whose company you enjoy in 
openness and intimacy without clinging? What kind of feelings do you 
have? Compare those feelings with the feelings you have when you 
win an argument, or when you win a race, or when you become 
popular, or when everybody's applauding you. The latter feelings I 
call worldly feelings; the former feelings I call soul feelings. Lots of 
people gain the world and lose their soul. Lots of people live empty, 

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! Gerardus' Grist ! Wisdom from Anthony de Mello ! 

soulless lives because they're feeding themselves on popularity, 
appreciation, and praise, on "I'm O.K., you're O.K"., look at me, 
attend to me, support me, value me, on being the boss, on having 
power, on winning the race. Do you feed yourself on that? If you do, 
you're dead. You've lost your soul. Feed yourself on other, more 
nourishing material. Then you'll see the transformation. I've given 
you a whole program for life, haven't I? 

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